No eReader for Blackberry?!?

As you might know from a recent post, I bought a blackberry a short while ago. Aside from a few minor issues getting it working with the exchange server at work, it has been a great device.

Except one company doesn’t agree. Motricity, the people who run eReader, says that they have no plans to support Blackberry with a version of eReader. That means that the books I have bought from them over the years won’t work on my Blackberry. That really sucks, but I suspect it will suck more for motricity than for Blackberry. I know I’m not going back to a palm that can’t deal with networking or a windows mobile machine that takes forever to do anything and crashes all the time, giving up reliable email in the process, just to be able to read their books. Let alone buy more of them.

Here’s to hoping they change their mind. In the mean time, I guess it’s back to paper.

Living with the Palm TX

It’s been over a week since I got the TX, so I’ve had plenty of time to give a good workout. It’s been a rough road, but I’m really warming up to this new model.

The built in wi-fi is awesome – really nice to have. The unit itself is fairly nice, if very much cheapened since the T3 days. The new software for hotsyncing is better than the old, or should I say it has more features. It’s the first version of Hotsync that has had problems with syncing to Outlook reliably.

The unit started out with about the same reliability as Windows ME (which, as I recall, stood for “Mostly Excrement”). It reset about every other time I tried to access a network of any kind. Most of the time when a program tried to fire up a connection I got an error saying the attempt failed, but if I went into the wi-fi tool or prefs directly I had no trouble connecting.

The hotsync process had been very unreliable as well. It would sync just fine, as long as I didn’t change any data anywhere, or try to sync with another computer.

When I got the TX, I had read enough to know not to just do a recovery sync to get everything out of my old T3 into the TX. I carefully uninstalled everything, even the PC software, and started fresh. I did save my old backup directory, and did transer a few items from there to the new Palm, but only a few – Teal Auto, and Splash ID.

That’s why I was so frustrated with the unit, and I thought for sure Palm was just foisting more junk on us. Then I decided to try again.

This time I just stuck with what came with the Palm, and didn’t sync with any computer but my work PC. So far, it’s been very reliable. I have added a few more apps,and the only penalty I’ve paid is a bug with the bluetooth setup for adding a phone (maybe more on that later).

Another thing I did, which I think is significant, is I reformatted the memory card I had been using. I copied all the stuff on it to my PC then stuck it back in the TX and reformatted it. I can’t offer any particular evidence, but I think this helped with the reliability.

Now I’ve got a totally different impression of the system. The ability to have the memory card in while on the net is very key for keeping your email with you – my entire 100+mb IMAP account is tucked away in Snappermail, and even finds work fairly fast.

I’m sitting in London as I write this – I’m there for an IFRA conference – and the TX is the only computer I’ve brought with me. So far it’s been enough, and it’s so much easier to carry. The syncing really needs to be improved, as it takes a long time, but I suppose there is some security in knowing everything’s backed up. The bad news is that they’ve removed the “Primary PC” settings choice from the hotsync menu so you cannot setup a freshly-hard-reset palm to recovery sync from the net. That’s a shame – one should be able to do that. One of the things that makes the Palm so attractive as a laptop replacement is the relative ease of disaster recovery. At least, in theory.

Palm TX – keyboard driver causes Bluetooth problem

Are you a Palm TX owner whoâ??s getting frustrated getting the Palm TX to connect or talk to Bluetooth devices? If yes, I might have an answer for ya.

I got a TX a while ago, and I really like the unit. However, itâ??s bit less stable than my old T3. Part of the problem is that some older software evidently isnâ??t compatible with the new unit. The main symptom is spontaneous resets, but another I discovered was an inability to set up a new phone to connect via Bluetooth. I noticed that when I click the â??Bâ?? icon in the status bar the window that came up showed a flickering â??Connectâ?? button down under Network Service. By doing a hard reset, and then trying to set up a new device and noticing both that the setup was trouble free and there was no flickering Connect button, I determined that some piece of software was causing the problem.

Of course, going through everything by trial and error is no fun, but there was little choice. I guessed, was wrong, and guessed again, deleting apps one by one.

Then it occurred to me that the keyboard driver might be the culprit. I went in, turned it off, and voila! The Connect button just barely flickers, and I was able to setup a Bluetooth device no problem.

Living with the Palm TX

It’s been over a week since I got the TX, so I’ve had plenty of time to give a good workout. It’s been a rough road, but I’m really warming up to this new model.

The built in wi-fi is awesome – really nice to have. The unit itself is fairly nice, if very much cheapened since the T3 days. The new software for hotsyncing is better than the old, or should I say it has more features. It’s the first version of Hotsync that has had problems with syncing to Outlook reliably.

The unit started out with about the same reliability as Windows ME (which, as I recall, stood for “Mostly Excrement”). It reset about every other time I tried to access a network of any kind. Most of the time when a program tried to fire up a connection I got an error saying the attempt failed, but if I went into the wi-fi tool or prefs directly I had no trouble connecting.

The hotsync process had been very unreliable as well. It would sync just fine, as long as I didn’t change any data anywhere, or try to sync with another computer.

When I got the TX, I had read enough to know not to just do a recovery sync to get everything out of my old T3 into the TX. I carefully uninstalled everything, even the PC software, and started fresh. I did save my old backup directory, and did transer a few items from there to the new Palm, but only a few – Teal Auto, and Splash ID.

That’s why I was so frustrated with the unit, and I thought for sure Palm was just foisting more junk on us. Then I decided to try again.

This time I just stuck with what came with the Palm, and didn’t sync with any computer but my work PC. So far, it’s been very reliable. I have added a few more apps,and the only penalty I’ve paid is a bug with the bluetooth setup for adding a phone (maybe more on that later).

Another thing I did, which I think is significant, is I reformatted the memory card I had been using. I copied all the stuff on it to my PC then stuck it back in the TX and reformatted it. I can’t offer any particular evidence, but I think this helped with the reliability.

Now I’ve got a totally different impression of the system. The ability to have the memory card in while on the net is very key for keeping your email with you – my entire 100+mb IMAP account is tucked away in Snappermail, and even finds work fairly fast.

I’m sitting in London as I write this – I’m there for an IFRA conference – and the TX is the only computer I’ve brought with me. So far it’s been enough, and it’s so much easier to carry. The syncing really needs to be improved, as it takes a long time, but I suppose there is some security in knowing everything’s backed up. The bad news is that they’ve removed the “Primary PC” settings choice from the hotsync menu so you cannot setup a freshly-hard-reset palm to recovery sync from the net. That’s a shame – one should be able to do that. One of the things that makes the Palm so attractive as a laptop replacement is the relative ease of disaster recovery. At least, in theory.

Back to Palm

I thought I was pretty happy with my new iPAQ. It has a fantastic screen and does pretty much everything a full size computer does, at least in simple terms.

But, there are two things i’ve found it does not do well at all:

first, it does not have any quick or easy way to look up a phone number and dial it with one hand. On the the Palm there is a nice one handed dialing method built right in. I can look up a number and dial it at a traffic light. I can connect with one click via bluetooth. Then my bluetooth headset lets me talk with relative safety.

The second thing the iPAQ doesn’t do is connect to work via VPN. I’m having a lot of trouble with this one, and I’ve worked on it more or less since I bought it. I’ve tried two other VPN clients. I’ve tried an astonishing array of settings. It doesn’t matter what I do, when it tries to connect it tells me there is a VPN server error and I need to check my settings.

My old Palm T3 just works. at least when it isn’t crashing, but it is a lot easier to work around crashes than features that aren’t there in the first place. I’m reading that the new TX is pretty stable – the most stable Palm out in some time, although I don’t suppose that’s saying much.

It has a very light plastic case, in black, which is really pretty nice looking. It also has the new Profit connector – whenever a company puts a term like “universal” in front of “connector” you know it’s going to be changed soon – so my old accessories won’t work.

It also doesn’t do Skype. Now, my experience with Skype suggests it is somewhere between a string-and-can system and a bad cell phone in of quality, but that’s probably just my experience. I should mention that I haven’t used it much. So many people rave about it that it is pretty hard to ignore. A free phone system would be a very nice addition on foreign trips where local phone charges are not always easily understood.

Still, the TX is a very nice unit, and more or less exactly what I wanted last time. It has built-in wi-fi and improved battery life. So the HP is going on tne auction block, and I’m going back to Palm. More to follow.

Windows Mobile transition update

It’s been quite a while now since I switched to Windows Mobile, and an iPAQ 4700. I’ve had a few issues to overcome, and I think I now have it in a pretty stable state.

The folks who say that the grass ain’t any greener on the other side are mostly right. You gain things, you lose things. Overall, it’s about the trade-offs you’re willing to make. Here are some I’ve identified:

  • There aren’t a lot of 3rd party apps, and even less that are solidly reliable. Webis Mail is flaky, slow, and prone to crashing. Egress too is somewhat flaky, but better. Neither are really dependable, but are clearly the best of what’s out there for this platform. On Palm there’s a lot more to choose from, although most of it lower in quality as far as features go.
  • eReader is much slower to load the dictionary, and if you exit with out clicking the exit button (say, stop the program from the memory screen) it loses your place in the book. This is really, really irritating.
  • The built in messaging is pretty nice, solid and fast. It lacks a few features, but overall I find it very usable.
  • The built in web browser is pretty good, and is reasonably fast. I don’t find it mauls many pages into an unusable state.
  • Things sync with Outlook very well, as you’d expect. None of the goofy first name, last name to last name, first name conversion silliness I’ve run into on Palm.
  • Skype. I haven’t used it much yet, but that it will run is just too cool.
  • PPC can sync with only two computers, at least, it can form partnerships with only two. I have a home desktop, a work desktop, and a laptop. One too many.
  • The iPAQ 4700 screen is a dream. Large, high resolution, and easy on the eyes.

My kingdom for a reliable PDA

Why is it so hard to make a PDA that is reliable?

I still like my new PPC, and I still love the screen. I finally dumped WebIS Mail because it just could not run reliably. Whenever it was running I got weird hangs, and other strange behavior as well as corrupted mail files. I think I’ve got a few other apps that are problem children.

I suspect this is the same problem I had on the Palm – a few bad apps spoil the whole barrel. When those apps are apps you need, then you have a real problem. I’m using the stock messaging app now, and it’s working ok. I’ve gone to Fastmail and have everything routed through there into a single IMAP account, which solves the moving-mail-between-accounts problem. By the way, Fastmail is pretty awesome and lives up to its name. It has the first web mail interface I actually use, and it even does things like reminding me to store new To: addresses in my address book.

Still, the question remains. Why is it so hard to make these things reliable? Linux, which is free software is reliable. Even Windows is now pretty reliable. Palm used to be reliable. These handheld devices are smaller and simpler than a PC, so you’d think it would be easier to get them ironed out.