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Stuff dealing with handheld devicess (mostly Palm OS, but not always). Some will be about my devices or devices I want (need) or just some cool new innovations or software, etc…

Written By: Gary on March 13, 2012 No Comment

This is why I canceled my new Verizon iPad 4G LTE order…

It’s really not as drastic as it seems, I still have my order in for an AT&T iPad 3, I only canceled my Verizon order. When they were first announced I wasn’t sure which one would be better to get to use globally either Verizon or AT&T; you’d think those companies would have information published so you’d choose them(?). So, as a result of no information, I ordered both, with plans to cancel or return one…

It seems that AT&T has faster LTE, but it’s very limited deployment at this time (and the Detroit area isn’t included, yet); AT&T appears faster, maybe if everyone was using it, it would slow down(?). On the other hand Verizon LTE is in my area.

But my question was/is, what’s going to be more useful globally for LTE; the 3G GSM seems to be universal world-wide, I’m not sure about the HSPA+ (4G-ish) standards around the world. This is me talking, so realize when I say globally, I mean Costa Rica. Costa Rica cell service has just gone from a monopoly to three (or 4?) carriers in the last few months; rumors/plans for LTE in Costa Rica are around but no specifics that I can find.

LTE is “Long Term Evolution” what some people consider 4G, but there really isn’t a good definition and I’ve read there are 30+ different incompatible implementations of LTE around the world. The
iPhone 4s has HSPA (or is it HSPA+) which AT&T labels as 4G (FYI, before the software upgrade last week, it would have shown up on your phone as 3G). And technically 4G is even faster than LTE can provide, so it’s hard to tell. Sometimes LTE is called 3GPP.

So the more I researched this the more I realized I wasn’t going to get a good answer. The iPad 3 is almost identical to each other, the Verizon has CDMA frequencies but is lacking one of the LTE frequencies that AT&T has. This had me leaning towards AT&T already (and their GSM 3G service on the iPhone works great in Costa Rica) but then I started looking around. In the United States we’ve got the AT&T model and Verizon model of the iPad but when I looked at Canada, France and Japan it appeared that the model they had available was identical to the AT&T model (and Costa Rica isn’t on the list for release yet). So that kind of made my decision, I opted for the AT&T and canceled my Verizon order. This worked out for me in that it was actually too late to cancel the AT&T model on-line, I would have had to refused delivery (which would have been tricky since they probably would have been delivering both at the same time) or I’d have to return it later.

I haven’t seen anything yet to make me decide that I should have gotten the Verizon one yet but I think Apple has the two week return policy (with no restocking fee) even if you buy it on-line. So if anyone hears anything different, please let me know!

Apple’s specs for the Wi-Fi + 4G for AT&T model:
4G LTE (700, 2100 MHz);
UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz);
GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)

A semi-big Verizon benefit is that they are going to allow tethering to share it’s Internet connection with your laptop (or other iPads) at no extra charge (other than the data you use) while AT&T is not going to do this. But I’m not sure how that will actually work globally so I’m not sure if it will matter to me.

Speaking of cellular data in Costa Rica, I generally get better speeds than I get in Michigan for the GSM 3G service. Actually, the more remote in Costa Rica I am (as long as there is cell service) the faster my data seems to be. I think that’s just because there are less people using it. If you’re looking at traveling with your AT&T phone, they’ve really dropped the pricing on their international data plans and they pro-rate them them pretty good (in the customer’s favor, IMHO).

Written By: Gary on May 24, 2011 No Comment

Am I silly for wanting this?  It’s Seagate’s new GoFlex Satellite mobile wireless storage. It lets me have 500 GB of storage for my iPhone!!!

The 500 GB portable hard drive wirelessly connects to any Wi-Fi enabled mobile device, and can be used to store music, movies, pictures and documents of various types.Seagate GoFlex Satellite Mobile Wireless Storage STBF500101-Black Seagate

iOS users can then access that media using a free companion app from the App Store designed specifically for use with the GoFlex hardware. If you’re using an Android or other device, you can access your media using a web browser. The GoFlex Satellite can stream media to up to three devices at a time (great for family road trips), has a battery life of 5 hours of continuous streaming (or 25 hours in standby mode) and retails for $199.99.

via Mobile Technology News.

I read about this a week ago and just keep thinking I should order it!! I think more storage is just the geeky version of wanting bigger power tools!

Written By: Gary on May 18, 2011 No Comment

I saw the Hasbro my3D at the store yesterday and just had to have it. It makes for an interesting interactive 3D experience. Hasbro 362190000 my3D Viewer for iPod Touch and iPhone - White Hasbro CEYou need an iPhone or iPod Touch to use it and I think it works better with the newer ones that have the gyroscope built-in. But there are a half-dozen my3D apps you can get from the Apple App store for free and a few you can pay for; as of today five my3D apps are free and one is 99 cents and another is $4.99 (both have free “lite” versions). A few months ago, they were giving all the games away for free, so I grabbed them while they were free(!)

Sector 17 is the space game, looks pretty cool and is fun for the bit that I played with it. The image below is the two halves of the image that I was looking at alternating; if you can alternately wink at three-tenths of a second, it probably looks 3D to you.

sector-17-ani.gif

All the games have no more than two buttons to play (where your thumbs stick into the device), but you do a lot of head tilting and spinning around to make some of the games work. Sector 17 and 360° Sharks really require standing. Sector 17 has a “couch mode” but it’s a lot harder to play; I believe not having a gyroscope model if the iDevice is like playing in “couch mode”. My old first generation iPod Touch (I think it’s 1st gen) works with the few games I tried.

shark-360.jpg

They’ve got a pretty good thing going here, $35 for a hunk of plastic and a few games, plus they’ll charge you for more games in the future. At 99 cents, I’d probably buy most of them to try it out, at $4.99 I’d probably try the lite version until I was bored (for $4.99 the space game does look pretty cool).

There is a Teleport L.A. game (that is more for kids) on a pier in Los Angeles which is all 3D 360° that you can pan around, this would be cooler if it were the Grand Canyon, the Moon or the Pyramids! And there is another more kid-like game called Bubble Bolt that you can roll around in a hamster ball collecting points. The iamge below is how is it looks on your iPhone screen.

teleport-la-both frames.PNG

A game called ShatterStorm is like the classic Tempest, but I thought it was a little hard to control. Spinning my head around like I did the controller back in the ’80s just doesn’t work for me.

There are separate snap on trays trays for different iDevice models (they could be labeled better) and there is a open cutout for the camera on my iPhone 4, so some interactive 3D VR type games are a possibility!

Pluses:

  • I don’t need my (reading) glasses to use it.
  • It’s 3D and 3D is cool!

Downsides:

  • I have to remove my iPhone from the case to use it.
  • Lots of game load times, these programs are very large (one was 500 MB!) and they have lots of loading time between levels and menus.

  • The default volume for the music in the background is very loud (it drowns out the game sounds), but it’s all adjustable (and so is the sound effects volume).
  • The games seem to work better if you have the model with the gyroscope, it’s more intuitive; you just look verses tilting your head. Although some games like the Tempest clone are just tilting your head left or right.

It’s actually cheaper shipped on-line (via Target at Amazon) then at the store (I paid $35), I asked at the counter but they wouldn’t match their own price (“that’s just to compete with other on-line services”), but I guess it didn’t matter, I bought it anyways. The plastic part will come down in price, they actually have a unique code on the viewfinder you need to input (one time) into a game before you play it.

UPDATE: And as of the update a few minutes ago, my3D Sector 17 started working with Apple’s Game Center. Also, this app has shrunk in size (from 434MB to 270MB).

Written By: Gary on December 30, 2010 No Comment

Skype 3.0 has now been released for the iPhone and it now supports video! Of course it supports the front and rear cameras on the iPhone 4! And it does the calls over 3G too! And it’s free. What are you waiting for? Go get Skype with video right now…

What’s New in Version 3.0
Improvements:

  • Make Skype to Skype video calls on WiFi and 3G*

  • Call Skype desktop users (Mac OS X or Windows) and other iPhone users.
  • Two-way video calls supported on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPod touch 4th gen.
  • Receive only video supported on iPad and iPod touch 3rd gen, with no camera.
  • Make video calls in portrait and landscape.
  • kype video calling requires iOS 4.0 or above.
    *Additional Data charges may apply

What more can I say other than go try it out?

Actually, I could say “Where was this for the last 10 days when I was in Costa Rica?!?“.

Written By: Gary on December 23, 2010 One Comment

The Word Lens application is amazing, one of the best uses of augmented reality yet! word-lens-logo.pngYou just point it at a sign (or any text) and it removes the words that are there and superimposes the translation over the old text.

The program is free and if you want to test it out, it’s two translation modes: “erase the text” and “reverse the letters”, while not very useful, make a great demonstration. The Spanish-to-English dictionary is $9.99 (they also have English-to-Spanish for an additional $9.99).

spanish-sign-word-lens.jpg
Here’s the sign that was taped up that I wanted to read.

It’s not the best video, but I really wanted to demonstrate this in a real world example. And since in the middle of recording the video I realized it was time for my bus, it’s pretty real world…

You’ll want to make the video full screen to actually be able to read it (and maybe you’ll need to pause it to really see what’s going on).

As I said you’ll want to look at it full screen (in HD) or you won’t be able to see the action on the iPHone screeen, so be sure not to just watch the embedded version.

I forgot to mention, no internet connection is required to use it! Once you purchase a dictionary it’s on your device (I assume it runs on the iPod touch with the camera also), it’s actually got a “dictionary” where you can look up words.

UPDATE: Also available for Android devices and Glass.

UPDATE: Now they also have Russian, Portuguese, German, Italian, and French available. To be clear the program translates back and forth between English and the other languages, but does not translate between the other languages (yet!).

Written By: Gary on December 21, 2010 2 Comments

As always the ride from Puntarenas to Paquera was fun and we got the big ferry which is a lot nicer than the little one. The boat was packed, I’ve never seen it that full of people before. The weather was gorgeous but got a little cloudy at the end of the ride (before the rain that started after the ride) but otherwise it was a great day for the ride.

This isn’t charming music that I edited into the video, it’s what was actually playing on the ferry in the background while I was shooting the video!

This video is watchable in HD (and for the first time you can watch video from me in 1080p! If you do watch in 1080p, let me know how it looks, I don’t have a screen with that high of resolution.

PS – This was mostly just me playing with the zoom on my new Canon Vixia HF20 that I mentioned the other day and I’m still a little shaky using it…

Written By: Gary on December 16, 2010 No Comment

I just got a “new” Canon Video Camera, a refurbished Canon Vixia HF20, I was really eyeing this camera last year. Someone had it way on sale, I ordered it and they never shipped (and didn’t charge me either). And it’s just had everything I liked: good reviews, option for an external microphone, seems to be compatible with iMovie, relatively easy to use and refurbished meant it had a good price (plus, I had a coupon code).

I’ve purchased refurbished equipment before and it’s always worked out for me. As I started opening the box I liked the way they had it all together in some pretty generic packaging, so I closed it and started filming (yes, it’s as boring as it sounds).

And you can play it in HD too!

As I said, the camera itself isn’t so much the story, since the camera has been out for a while, it’s all about the generic packaging (boring). FYI, I shot this with my iPhone camera, hopefully I’ll be posting more videos with my new camera soon…

Written By: Gary on October 24, 2009 No Comment

I shot, edited (titles and transitions) and uploaded this video from my iPhone. I used ReelDirector for the editing. This is my first attempt but it was way easy to use. reeldirectorvideoThe video was shot on the iPhone, edited on the iPhone and e-mailed to YouTube for uploading. It’s five short stiched-together videos (which I was able to trim when I imported them) with some text at the beginning and end. I used the same transition (blur) for all the transitions since it was easy to use (you can customize this per transition). You can rearrange the videos once they are in there, but I pretty much picked them in the order that I wanted them in.

This is from the balloon festival from a few months ago. The first speaker is me talking as I shot it. The rest is whatever voiceover was going on at the time. Nothing fancy at all.



Direct link to the video is here.

I didn’t time it, but I’d guess it was about three or four minutes (on the iPhone 3gs 3.01 OS) to stitch and build the one minute video. My biggest complaint is I couldn’t extend the time for the titles and credits and the time is too short). I also wish I could have inserted some photos too (but then there wouldn’t have been audio behind it). The strangest thing was that it didn’t save the video back to the phone, I didn’t see any way to get it out of the program other than e-mailing it to myself (or YouTube) but that worked fine (the iTunes page says this works in 3.1). it’s very cool software but it’s a little pricy at $7.99 for $3.99 (since iMovie came out); I used an iTunes gift card that I got last month for my birthday which made the (old $7.99 price) a bit more digestible…

Written By: Gary on January 20, 2009 No Comment

So I’ve never been happy with most digital calendars. I’ve used them for years, but never been completely satisfied with them, they’re just always missing a few things. Usually I use what’s on my Palm Pilot, a slightly modified version of their calendar with a week view. Sadly, this is virtually the same datebook they’ve had for years and never had a decent weekly view (handspring had a version for a while) so you have to add a program on to do this. FYI, if you don’t have a Mac or don’t use a calendar this post might get pretty boring (even if you do it’s probably not the most exciting) but if you are on a Mac and use Google Calendar and/or a Palm it might be useful.

jan20ical.pngI don’t like more of the desktop software that I’ve tried. If I find something I really like, generally the one thing that puts me off is the view of the days (either one day or a week) they generally show me a 8 or 12 hour block, this is useless to me when I have something outside that block of time, when I glance a the week view, I can’t see appointments that I have in the evening (and those are probably the fun things!). I have so few things on my calendar, I’m not booked for something different every 15 minutes, it’s easy enough to squish things together. It’s computer software, they should be able to do it.

What I’m currently doing is syncing iCal with Google Calendar. It’s pretty quick and has worked well with all the testing I’ve done today (I’ll tell you how at the end).

calendar_goog.gifGoogle’s calendar shows me about 12 hours so I have to scroll to see if I have anything going on. iCal for the Macintosh gives me a nice 24 hour view, but they could easily compress the 1 am-6am section to something even smaller to give the rest more space (I’ve got nothing going on all week at those times) and even the on-line version does shows you all 24 hours. Another minus is that iCal doesn’t have a way to set a default calendar, I want it to chose the one I’m syncing with Google, I can sort of cheat for that but I see that not sticking all the time, but a option to set a default seems simple enough.

iCal and Google lets you subscribe to other calendars; kind of like a live feed that it’s updating to your calendar. When on-line it generally seems easier to add other items to my Google calendar (like when a site lists their upcoming events). While iCal doesn’t make it easy to copy from one category to another (it’s main category to my Google category specifically).

My end result is getting the Google Calendar synced with iCal and then syncing iCal with my Palm, thus having my appointments everywhere (preferably on the Palm and on the Laptop). And then I can use the desktop application for entering info.

If I just sync in iCal I guess they’d be on the web (in MobileMe), but I’d rather have them in Google Calendar. I can do more with Google while I’m on-line and easily add others events to it and subscribe to other calendars but with iCal I can’t see my subscribed calendars in the MobileMe web interface. I could just always use Google Calendar all the time, but not if I’m off-line, I guess that’s why I need iCal. If I got an iPhone this would be less of an issue, I’d just sync iCal with an iPhone and be done with it. Hmm…

FYI to get Google Calendars to talk to iCal I used Calabortion (from Google). I don’t know if you actually need it (I think you can type everything in by hand) but it’s a tiny application that makes configuring a breeze (just need your Google address and password). It’ll even add your subscriptions (go to preferences) but since it’s read-only it’ll yell at you when you sync.

Written By: Gary on December 9, 2007 No Comment

Meade mySKY Personal Guide for Sky Exploration MeadeSo this was a cool item I saw at REI the other day when I was looking at GPS units. Its a gun you point up at the night sky and it calculates where you are, the direction you’re facing and what angle the gun is tilted at and lights up it’s display and tells you what you are looking at (with a picture too).

Unfortunately, it was daytime and I couldn’t use it. The one I saw was the Meade mySKY Personal Guide for Sky Exploration, this might just be something I need. This is the Official Meade site for the mySky (with some video)

  • it can identify 30,000 unique items
  • 500 audio descriptions to keep you well briefed
  • built in GPS receiver
  • 2 inch wide 480 x 234 LCD
  • Sandy Wood (from StarDate) is who narrates the sky for you
  • interfaces with some Meade telescopes
  • looks like a space gun / phaser

  • Popular Mechanics gave it a great review. But a lot of the people reviewing these seem to have them dead out of the box or problems getting the GPS to “lock”. The ones who it worked for absolutely love them. Possible other problems: Waving a gun around outside or trying to get it through airport security. And for some reason you can only update it on a Windows machine (via an SD card).Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium CelestronThe Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium seems to be a similar product, but it’s not as cool looking but it’s a year older and I think they’ve worked some of the bugs out. Many of the SkyScout complaints seemed to also be with getting the GPS to “lock”.

    And. of course, there is a chart to compare the mySky and SkyScout.

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    Written By: Gary on July 15, 2007 2 Comments

    The title really says it all. But you have to see it to believe it!

    And when you’re done watching it, you can bid on it and other extras (it’s up to $1,100 for some weird reason).

    Written By: Gary on February 9, 2007 No Comment

    This is insane!

    State senator’s bill would make it illegal to cross the street tuned into portable electronic devices such as MP3 players and BlackBerrys.

    For one, you can have these devices with headsets off (and not actually outputting audio) and not distracting you. And the other is that Deaf people cross the street all the time without hearing traffic. While they do have more practice if they’re talking to someone (signing and watching the other person) they’re definitely distracted and this bill. (Have you ever ridden in a car with deaf people signing to each other? How about while they’re signing to the people in the next car over?!?) And I’m not sure if this covers if you’re texting or just using audio? What if you’re reading the paper or a book? Or reading a billboard ad on the side of a bus?

    Either way, I just want the gov’t to start supplying someone to hold my hand while I cross the street. That’s what we really need, right? It’s certainly what they’re leading up to…

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    Written By: Gary on February 8, 2007 No Comment

    ToyspringhandSo imagine this: You’ve got some kind of handheld inviso-detecter-o-rama and through the viewfinder you can see the invisible creatures in your world. Better yet, if you can see them, you can shoot them. Now imagine this handheld device looks an awful lot like your Treo.

    ToySpring has created a game, called Arcade Reality, using your Treo that uses the live image from your camera to to superimpose the creatures on. So it appears as if you are fighting arcade creatures in real life. Here are some more screenshots.

    Personally, I don’t see how they can get enough processing power out of these handhelds to do this, but the machine might have overlay capabilities that I’m not aware of (I’ve never tried to program a Palm like that). Or they might just be faster than I think. I have seen some zippy video games, I juse don’t play them that much these days…

    Written By: Gary on February 1, 2007 One Comment

    No not that iPhone. The iPhone that’s been out for a while, the one that Linksys/Cisco owns the trademark to (but debating that is not the purpose of this thread). It’s a regular old looking phone, kinda cellphone-ish, it’s cordless and you can carry it around the house and it connects wirelessly to your Windows PC and can make and receive Skype calls. Your Skype friend’s list shows up in the display and you can dial from there. I thought it was pretty cool and it was on the odd clearance rack at Target (the UPC on the box didn’t scan and the had an extra price tag on it, like they received it by accident but needed to tag it to get rid of it) it was a great deal! It’s even got a spot for me to plug in a headset!

    I like Skype, it’s a great idea and even though I only intermittently use it, it always seems to work for me. You can call other computers for free from your computer to and from anywhere in the world (this includes conference calls and video calls). You can call land lines in the US or Canada for just pennies a minute with no monthly fees (or unlimited for $30 a year) from anywhere in the world. Calling other countries cost a bit more depending on the location. Getting a number where people can call you at your computer (no matter what computer you are at, anywhere in the world) is about $60 a year. So going on vacation, it doesn’t matter where you are just load up Skype and connect to the net and people can call you! Get several skype numbers, one that’s close to Grandma and one that’s close to the kids in college and you’re just a local call away for each of them.

    Then phone’s charging and so I haven’t even used it yet. But I can’t wait to try!FYI, they do make some other models of the iPhone that don’t require a computer, they just need WiFi to work. I see that as a minor problem in some places since you need a web browser to activate the Wifi (Panera, McDonald’s, Border’s, etc.). And they’re a lot more expensive. When they get smaller and cheaper, or better yet when they come built into my cell phone…

    Written By: Gary on October 12, 2006 No Comment

    GooglemapstreoSo they finally released Google Maps for Treo so I can run it on my SPrint Treo 700p. With this application I can pull up Google Maps from an application, not just via the web! This means I can zoom, get directions, see satellite views, get very cool driving directions, find local businesses, see traffic patterns (this is a little hard to decipher) all while dragging the map around with my stylus. Very cool!

    It’s been out for some other handhelds but it never ran on mine. It’s pretty zippy with the Sprint EVDO speed. It’s pretty big, it weighs in at 423k. It seems to do a good job caching the maps, I wonder how it runs on the slower models and slower networks…


    You can down load it directly to your Palm (and other handhelds) from http://www.google.com/gmm

    It’s missing two features:

  • The ability to look an address up from your address book.
  • The ability to add a local business that you find to your address book.
  • It’d be nice if I could look up the longitude and latitude for an address/location. (Just because)

    From the Google Blog.

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    Written By: Gary on June 18, 2006 One Comment

    So if you’ve seen any short test posts lately it’s ’cause I’m testing blogging clients for my new Treo 700p handheld. Some old some new, some worked some didn’t, some the new versions didn’t. I just updated this post since I got slightly confused between a few of the clients when writing this up. The winners IMHO are:

  • Mo:Blog – easy to use (but I did have to look at the manual a few times), stand alone. I only did a few test posts so we’ll see later. One bug – when getting the blog id from the site the numbering got goofed up somehow, since none of the other clients did this I thought I’d mention it. The other odd thing was you pick the category when you set the blog up, not on individual posts. It’s about $15.
  • Azure – I think this was my favorite on my old phone too. It requires some kind of Java environment (I used IBM’s) to be installed. It does allow for the extended entry (and one category) and will download previous posts (this always makes me nervous on the mobile clients due to field length). And it’s free. See below for install information.


    I’m always surprised at how hard it is in some software to find out the web site of the company that makes/made it. It’s not in the about, or in the manual. I’m especially surprised in the ones that want you to register, it might have been on the page where you got it, but it’s gone (or you forgot where you got it).

    For new users to mobile blogging Mo:Blog is probably better, the Java VM stuff is a little tricky (unless you’ve used it before).
    For those interested:

  • None let me use the extended entry (except Azure).
  • Most clients give an error when posting (but still posts). Flickr does this to me too, so it’s an MT thing or something with my install.
  • The other ones I tried include KaBlog 1.42 (limited but always reliable, couldn’t get newer versions to run once I hit edit post), plogit, blogplanet (stable but missing a few features), uBlog, handx, hblogger and I thought one other but…

    The thing is I can do most of this with the MT quickpost option and it lets me use the extended entry (I compose in memopad first). Several programs seem like they’ll work directly with the photos on the palm (and the camera) but no luck with any for me. But I can use the Flickr e-mail option to post photos and text to the blog for that (which works great).

    Decision, decisions…

    FYI – To install Azure: First download the IBM Java WebSphere Everyplace Micro Environment (CLDC 1.1 /MIDP 2.0) on your computer and install J9JavaVMMidp20.prc and JavaVMCheck_enUS.prc (in the JVM/ARM4T directory) on your treo. Then once that’s installed, launch it, say install and type http://web.vee.net/projects/azure/azure_0-5.jad and it will download it from the net and install it. Keep in mind when running Azure it’s got all the options in the menus (title, body, excerpt, extended, bold, paragraph) and you have to go “Back” for some menus. It takes a minute to figure it out, but it works. When it asks for your blog address, what it really want is the long xmlrpc address for your site.

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    Written By: Gary on February 26, 2006 No Comment

    So it’s always a hassle to view web sites on your phone / PDA. Google has been making this smarter when you search from their mobile site. If you search for “gary said” you get this list and when you click my link (which is first) you get a pretty nice stripped down page. Now I offer my site as a PDA/cell phone version but the graphics are still full, I noticed Google strips them down a bit and removes animated gifs (which is a mostly good thing). The other thing is Google continues to alter the pages as you follow links keeping your browsing experience zippy (I don’t do this but my lower pages are sort of small screen friendly).

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    Written By: Gary on November 18, 2005 No Comment
  • Apple 12 inch Powerbook: Software, Internet, Music, Audio Books, Podcasts, eBooks, Movies and more. It’s got just about everything I need.
  • Palm OS Cell Phone (Samsung i500): Phone, Day Planner, Address/Phone Book, a few games, slow internet (but I can get info and check my mail), it’ll work as a modem for my computer in a pinch.
  • Digital Camera (Minolta Dimage Xt 3.2MP): Photos, short Movies, Audio recording and in a pinch it’ll work as a thumb drive (I think it’ll work as a webcam on a windows machine).
  • iPod 60GB color (no video): Music, Podcasts, eBooks, my (read only) calendar/addressbook, some eBook files and works as a really big thumb drive.
  • TiVo (250 GB DVD recorder): Plays TV (what I want when I want), Records what I want every week (and makes suggestions), plays CDs, DVDs, Video CDs, streams audio and photos from my computers. With the new (free) HME options I can check the weather, movie listings, RSS feeds, photo feeds, flickr streams, play games, play my iTunes, back up shows to my computer and more (people keep writing these modules).


    All are pretty mullti-functional devices that are converging. The Powerbook + TiVo have pretty similar capabilities and the phone + palm + camera + iPod are certainly sharing some capabilities too. Merge those in to two devices that let me doc them together and life would be good. The only thing missing is a real video recorder (and that’s probably coming soon).

    I’m pretty covered, I’m not sure what else I need. Other than the newer / faster / smaller versions of these same gadgets, of course (I’d like the iPod video player). Maybe something to power/charge all these gizmos. Obviously I need a TV/projector for the TiVo (and speakers for the surround sound) but other than normal appliances these do pretty good for me.

    From Top 5 Friday.

  • Written By: Gary on September 9, 2005 No Comment

    So I know all it seems like is that I’m talking about these days is phones, music, iPods and cable bills lately, but I’ve been really geeked about the new Apple “toys” and I always like reducing costs on recurring charges (like phones, cell phones and cable). Saving $10-15 a month each on your phone, cell and cable, while avoiding any overages could be $500 year. That’s not being cheap, it’s avoiding being wasteful. If you don’t care about saving money this’ll be a boring post so just skip it.


    Speaking of reducing charges, I’ve also reduced my cell phone bill and maybe my savings can help you too. I’m with Sprint, whom I occasionally hear people complain about, but I think they’re great at home (Detroit Area) and when traveling I’ve almost always had great service (it was a weak in the Grand Canyon). I had a lot of minutes on my phone, I haven’t been using them all (not even a third) but I’d rather have a cushion and not go over than the pay the huge overages (100 minutes over at 40 cents a minute is $40!). But they’ve had this fair and flexible plan which if you go over they charge by blocks of minutes at a much more reasonable rate. I looked at them before and they didn’t strike me as great, but I just looked again and it seemed a better deal (I don’t know if it changed or I just wasn’t paying attention). I lowered my plan by 400 minutes so I’m saving $15 a month and it’s $5 increments for 100 minute blocks if you go over (a lot cheaper) after that. So unless I go over 300 hundred minutes I’ll be paying the same price but at the rate I’ve been going, I’ll definitely be saving money. YMMV with other phone companies…

    I also just made the leap to ditch my POTS land line, so I really wanted to make sure I’m not going to get nailed for overages. At $40+ a month with taxes, that with my other savings is another month’s mortgage payment. FYI, if you can make an extra mortgage payment a year it shaves about 7 years off your total mortgage.

    With Sprint, changing your plan means generally (99% of the time, especially if lowering your plan) means redoing a 2 year contract. I had 6 months left so I really only ended up tacking on 18 more months. Plus, they gave me $150 to spend towards a new phone if I want it since I renewed the contract (for my mother’s line they only offered me $75 towards a new phone).

    They also offer 6 o’clock nights so if you do a lot of you calling starting then you can add that to save some minutes (if you have a 9pm nights plan it’s $5 for 7pm and $10 for 6pm to start unlimited calling). If you’ve been with them for a bit you can usually get them to waive the 7pm fee. A little haggling and you can get them to wave the $5 for mobile to mobile free calling and if you really have been with them for a while you can get a 5% courtesy discount, I know there are people with better plans than that, but I haven’t been able to do better. To get any of the “discounts” like these you have to ask several times and sometimes re-word it before they give you some of the options. I haven’t been able to get them to give me the 6pm nights for even $5, they want to throw away my $5 discount and charge me the whole $10, we’ll see how the plan works with the new stuff.

    They’ve also lowered altered the Vision data plans, it looks like if you don’t have a camera (or video-player) in your phone you can get the $10 plan ($5 for additional phones) instead of the $15 plan.

    Written By: Gary on September 6, 2004 No Comment

    A new adventure game, coming out for just about every platform (Windows, Macintosh, Linux/X11, BeOS, Palm OS and Pocket PC). Be sure to check out the site and the trailer.

    This won’t be out until September, what really excites me is the multi-platform deployment all at the same time. If we start seeing more of this in the future it’ll really level out the playing field in computer OSes

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    Written By: Gary on March 22, 2004 No Comment

    carboardcradle2carboardcradleSome PDA’s do not come with a cradle to syncronize, just a cable. The solution for one magazine? Paper cradles for the cradleless Clies. “You need the cable that came with your CLIE, some cardboard paper, scissors, tape (and of course) a PDF that will be published in the Spring Mobile Press Magazine (Japan only) later this week.

    Written By: Gary on February 16, 2004 No Comment

    It looks like Apple might be finally entering the PDA market! This is a good thing since Palm OS 6 doesn’t plan to support the Macintosh.

    The odd part of this is that even though Macintosh has a small percentage of the computer market, many of the Palm OS people that I know are Mac-users. The question to me is what percentage of their sales go to Mac-users? The only reason I put Windows back into my house after 20 years was to get better synchronization with my Macintosh. I wanted some of the geekier conduits and they just didn’t exist for the Mac. Some third party company (the Missing-sync folks) will write a Mac-driver if the market is there…

    But I digress:
    It’ll probably have a hard drive (ala mini-iPod) and Firewire, USB and BlueTooth. The second article mentions WiFi and cell phone. There were hints of it playing music (actually downloading music while in the waiting room). Of course it’ll support QuickTime and sync with all of the iApps. And (wait for it…) it’ll support Windows. Maybe not the first week, but soon. You can’t tell me that all the Windows people who bought iPods (and considered iPods) won’t at least consider this device. I’m assuming it’s share files in a variety of ways (like target disk mode and such). The only thing I haven’t seen mentioned is a camera and GPS. I’d subscribe to .mac I think if this tied into it…

    One of the articles I read said something like ‘people spend more time deciding on a phone or a PDA than any other electronic device’. I know I do, if I’m going to carry it everywhere, I’m going to be fussy about it. My 2 cents: No mini-keyboard/thumbboard. Let me use grafitti or something similar. Let it support a regular USB keyboard (or mouse) thought the USB port (or via WiFi?)

    You can check out this article from MacNet2.com and part 2.

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    Written By: Gary on February 6, 2004 One Comment

    Actually I haven’t played Scrabble in a while. If you like Scrabble and you have a Palm (or PocketPC) handheld they make an excellent version that you can play against the computer or others.

    But I digress. The reason for tonight’s post is that I saw this on Heather’s Blog and had to do it myself… Especially since mine is bigger than Heather’s.

    Pholph’s Scrabble Generator

    My Scrabble© Score is: 32.
    What is your score? Get it here.
    Written By: Gary on January 9, 2004 One Comment

    How’s this: “The OQO computer has all the functionality of a ultraportable notebook computer, with a 1GHz processor, a 20GB hard drive, 256MB of RAM, color transflective display (for easy indoor and outdoor viewing), 802.11b wireless, a removable lithium-polymer battery, and FireWire™ and USB 1.1 ports. For input and navigation it includes thumb keyboard with TrackStik™ and mouse buttons as well as digital pen and thumbwheel.” It even has more than that! All in a handheld computer which fits in your pocket (I can’t find size specs on the web site).

    CES and he showed it on TV a minute ago. It comes with a funky connector that has usb, firewire, svga and all the other ports you need (you can use this as a docking connector) It has a USB port built in so you can take a full size keyboard with you! I’ve been asking for this on palms for years!

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