Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another day, another infrastructure outage

Gremlins, I shake my tail at you! That is all. Update: 29 hours later, CC is up again. Holy cow, that's going to be expensive.

Looking for a new smartphone

I've been using a smartphone since the Palm Treo 270 was released, way back in 2002. The phone died after it got rained on in Vancouver. (I know... rain? in Vancouver, right? zomg!). It was replaced by the Treo 650 in 2005, and I've been using it ever since. It's late 2010 now, and smartphones have become much more common, almost mainstream in North America. I'm no historian, but I'll go out on a limb (I'm a squirrel... get it? Out on a limb? Ha!) and say this was due to the RIM Blackberry taking over where Palm dropped the nut. The release of Apple's iPhone in 2007 followed by Google's Android platform in 2009 really popularized this category of technology. This year has seen the release of the iPhone 4, Windows 7 phones, and so many Android models that I'm getting all twitchy from frequently visiting and revisiting sites like Gizmodo, Engadget, and Boy Genius Report. Although I've had a smartphone for a long time now, I really don't use all its data-focused, "smart" features. Partly because I'm cheap and don't want to pay for data. But mostly because I have a desk job and can connect to the internet almost anytime I want. Work gives me a ThinkPad to use, so I prefer to process gmail, google calendar, and surf the 'net on its nice big screen. I used to have a data plan with Robbers, but discontinued that shortly after my weather app stopped working. It's been years since then, and I've rather been enjoying the savings. The Treo 650 has been serving me well. Here are the things I use it for:
  • phone - the 650's phone is ok, not great. I need to use VolumeCare to boost the sound: hate the app, but it works.
  • sms/mms - this is the best way to reach me when I'm out of cell range
  • calendar - absolutely need to have an offline copy of my work and google calendars
  • keyring - an app to keep my passwords
  • calculator - besides basic calculations, it can do unit conversions, base conversions, and 32-bit logic
  • memo - built in app to store recipes, ideas, gdb crib sheet, etc
  • handy shopper - an app that helps me remember what to buy and which store has the best prices
  • world clock
What I like about the Treo 650:
  • it's been reliable
  • the keyboard, 5-way switch, and multiple other buttons are great
  • the silence switch
  • vibrate options which can be used with or instead of audible alarms
  • the IR transmitter has allowed me to transfer just about everything to my ThinkPad
What I don't like about the Treo 650:
  • foistware - default apps that cannot be disabled or removed unless you know how to create and burn rom images. I'm looking at you, RealPlayer, VersaMail, and Blazer. You all suck.
  • at 178 grams, it's heavy compared to most feature phones and modern smartphones
  • the case is slippery
  • the screen was good for its time, but is now very meh
  • the SD card once popped out and fell in the toilet
  • the stills camera sucks
  • videos are stored in a weird format
  • the 2.5mm headphone jack is reportedly fragile, needs an adapter
  • limited ring tunes
So, all that is to give you an idea of how I use my current smartphone, what I like and dislike about it. Choosing a phone, smart or otherwise, is a very personal decision. It must fit one's needs and lifestyle. In future entries, I'll delve into possible relacements.