Archive for the ‘Tech Commentary’ Category


Sorry I haven’t written in awhile! I’ve been busy over the Christmas season – but anyways, I have time now for about a 10 minute quickie commentary on the new iPhone by Apple.

If you’ve been keeping up w/ the news, there’s a lot of hype surrounding this phone. Believe me, I love macs myself, and I’m typing on one now, but I try to be pretty objective. I saw apple’s site about this iPhone, and the demonstrations are impressive if not mindblowing. I couldn’t help thinking “now this is a true smartphone, what a phone SHOULD be!”

I’m not going to bother you with the tech specs of this phone, b/c a million other websites probably do that by now.

But here are some questions you should ask before you think about if you want to shell out $499 (for the 4gb) or $599 (8gb) for the iPhone. Ask yourself:

1.  What are the features I really need in a smartphone? It looks like to you that you might want to use every feature, but get realistic. Do you really schedule your appts in your Mac now? If not, the calendar feature won’t be of any use, b/c you probably won’t do it on your Mac to sync it over to your iPhone. How does it handle to do lists or memos (both of which exist in Palm)? I didn’t see any presentation on that. I’m a major to-do list guy, I get nothing done without a good to do list with alarms. Can I enter one on the fly into the iPhone? Does it even have a To Do list? What about reading/editting Word docs? Palm does that, so does Windows. But the word is, iPhone will not have it. I mean, will Microsoft make an iPhone version of Office for them? I doubt it. Do you read ebooks? I do – a lot. Will the iPhone have an ebook reader natively installed? I hope so, b/c you can’t download and use one. The word on the street is that it will not support 3rd party apps, at least for now, so don’t count on some company stepping up to the plate to fill some functional gaps. So if having mobile office is important to you, iPhone may not be for you, unless you want to carry a separate PDA with it.

2.  Do you have the money? Did you count the hidden costs? What I mean by this is that just b/c you have $499, it doesn’t mean that you’re set to bring this iPhone home. First of all, how much is Cingular going to charge you? You will probably need to buy a new plan that includes a data plan so that you can access the internet – otherwise, what’s the use of an iPhone? So I guess that will be around an extra $40 per month (just a guess). That will mean an extra $480/year. Also, if you already have a cell plan w/ another mobile carrier, say Verizon, you will have to pay a cancellation fee of $250. Then, on top of that, you will probably want to buy a new nice case to protect your baby. Another $20-30. Then for you really careful guys, you will want maybe insurance? (yes, there are insurance companies out there that cover electronics/computers for accidental coverage – search ‘insurance’ in my blog, I’m too lazy to look it up). That will be more $/year. Total that up, and that’s the real cost of ownership, you do the math.

3.  What if you accidentally drop it and don’t have insurance? or stolen? or plain lose it? Self-explanatory, call me a pessimist… then you’re out loads of cash.

4.  Will another smartphone do the job for me for cheaper? For example, windows smartphones can do pretty much all that the iPhone can do in terms of functionality (minus the easy gestures w/ your fingers on the iPhone). Read about it here. I don’t know much about windows mobile, but I’m not sure if windows mobile can multitask, so that’s something to consider. Palm on the other hand, can’t multitask at all! They are so behind (yes, I own a palm myself) but they are banking on the Linux platform to save them, but no news about them in awhile, so I’m not sure how the development is going on that. I need to stop, I’m geeking out, not helping the average joe.

5.  Will the first edition of iPhone be stable enough? If you’ve followed the MacBook, or any new invention or major release software, you’ll know that the first release is always a bit buggy. MacBook and the MacBook Pro had some heating issues and other minor glitches (just google “macbook problems”). Also, the second edition of the MacBook Pro is much better, and less buggier – problems fixed. Problems that they probably knew about upon the first release. I’m not bashing Apple on this, it’s just expected for the first release of anything.

6.  Can this multifeatured iPhone not fall to early obsolescence? What I mean is, with all its bells and whistles, how long will it last? The rule of thumb for mechanical/electrical devices is that the more features it has, the more it’s prone to break down. For ex., how long will that nifty touch screen last? Will it be just as sensitive and responsive after 2 years? Something to think about. It’s made in China by the way (I heard), but then so are their laptops.

7.  Lastly, how long is the battery life? How long do I need it to be and how will it impact my routine? My guess is about 4-5 hours. But if you plan to use it a lot to watch movies and surf the web, I expect significantly less, perhaps 2 to 3? Is the battery replaceable? (I heard that it’s not, at least not unless you want to take it apart!). What if you don’t have your charger, and you need to make that crucial phone call? Even if you have your charger, uh, what if you are in a place with no outlet? It happens to me and my Palm at times.

    I hope this brings you down to earth before it comes out in May/June ’07 so that you don’t just shell out $$ because you just found yourself drooling for it.

    Whew, this was long, I think I might take another month long break!


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    again from http://www.abcnews.com:

     MULTITASKING CAN HARM MEMORY People who learn something new while multitasking are less able to recall what they’ve learned later on, researchers from the University of California at Los Angeles found in a new study. They tested subjects on a simple memory task while at the same time asking them to count the number of random tones they heard while learning. Multitasking didn’t harm memory during the learning but appeared to make it more difficult to retrieve what was learned later. Writing about these results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, neuroscientists speculate that having distractions around when you’re trying to make a new memory causes the distractions to get so tangled up with the memory that you end up needing the distraction to be able to get the memory back out of storage. For example, if you listen to the radio while studying for a test, you end up needing the music to be recall what you learned. The memory recall becomes less flexible and more dependent on the situation.

    With so many things that vie for our attention, good old undistracted focus is the best!  Whether you’re a student, a professional, whatever, I hope you take this to heart.

    Take some time to focus and take the headset off…

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    From http://www.abcnews.com:

    TV HURTS KIDS’ SCHOOL PERFORMANCE A new study of mostly white children in the northeastern United States finds that increased time watching TV on weekdays is associated with poorer performance in school. For example, kids who were not allowed to watch TV or movies on school days were about half as likely to say their grades were poor compared to kids whose viewing had no restrictions. Weekend TV viewing was not associated with school performance. In the study, more than 4,500 middle schoolers answered questions about their TV viewing habits and their grades. Other factors that were nearly equal or more powerful predictors of doing well in school include: being female, having two parents who graduated high school, and not needing a free school lunch, which indicates higher family income. This study was published in Pediatrics by researchers from Dartmouth University.

    This is amazing news – you mean if you watch more TV, you’ll actually have less time for things such as studying and homework, and therefore do worse in school?  No way!

    This is for you parents – keep your kids off of being addicted to the “dummy-tube” and these days, you also need to watch for excessive use of their computers.  You think just because you bought them a computer, and because they are sitting in front of it, that they are doing their homework?  No way.  They are busily hopping back and forth from different myspace and other blog pages, commenting away, writing new blogs, and then chatting w/ others.

    If you really want your kids to do well in school, minimize their distractions – I won’t go into the specifics of how.  You decide how you will do that – you are their parents.  But my humble opinion is that they don’t need the internet (most of the time) to do their homework.  If they need something off the net, you help them with it.

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    So are you always checking out the latest gadget out – just because you need to?  Do you feel envious when your co-worker/friend has that one obscure feature or upgrade that you would probably never use?  Are you already feeling anxious because the Treo 700p is out, but you ONLY  have a Treo 650?  Are you own more than 2 PDAs, just because they’re neat?  Do you even check out the phones in Asia, because they’re more advanced, even though you can’t use them here?

    You might be a “gadget-geek” in my definition. By that, I mean that gadgets have taken over your life, and you are experiencing life that has not been made more efficient by gadgets, but has rather become inundated by them.  You are enslaved by gadgets rather than being empowered by them.

    C’mon.  You really don’t need that one upgraded feature – you’ll probably try out that higher megapixel camera built into the newer model phone, but you’ll probably decide that it’s still not as good as your digital camera, and you’ll carry both around, and use the phone camera once a month.

    I think we need to be mindful that gadgets are supposed to optimize our lives and make our lives more efficient and available for more meaningful stuff – like family and friendships.  Spend the extra time that your pda, computer or cell phones give you with people you care about, not pursuing the latest stuff.  In the end, relationships are far more valuable than just “stuff”.

    Signing off.

    -The “ungeek” (and trying to stay that way).

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    It seems that the PDA trend is dying away. Yes, the Palm TX is somewhat still popular, and some people are still gobbling up the windows mobile PDAs, but it seems to be from what I can tell in the stores (Best Buy, CompUSA, etc), and from online ariticles is that the trend it that SmartPhones have taken over. Smartphones are PDA + Cell phone, which only seem to make sense.

    The Treo seemed to have made that move quite popular, after making a quite viable and usable model in the Treo 650.

    Now, they have come up w/ the Treo 700w (windows mobile version) as well as the 700p (palm OS version, but still on OS version 5 like your TX).

    I would make the move to the Treo myself, but I just can’t stand the small screen (320 x 320) after having had a PDA with 480×320. I use it my TX for scheduling, for memos, handwritten notes, and note taking using Docs to Go. I also have a keyboard for it (the wireless infrared version) so it’s a very viable option for me to use instead of my laptop when it comes to note taking.

    I just can’t get myself to type on that little thumboard on the Treo effectively. At most maybe 20 wpm? I think most people that use Treos and other Smartphones are mainly using it for scheduling plus phone use. Note taking (and some ebook reading) probably constitutes about 40% of my Palm TX use, so I’m sticking with the TX for now.

    The word on the street is that Palm may go with Linux in the future (not sure how long down the line). But we’ll see where that goes. In the meantime, I don’t see much innovation coming after the TX… But Palm, I’m open and welcome to surprises.

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