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.

Gone To The Other Side – Switching From Palm To Windows Mobile

As you know I’ve been itching for a new PDA, and had been tempted and then spurned by the Lifedrive. I am now an iPAQ 4700 owner. Yup, I’ve gone to the “dark side” and moved to Windows Mobile 2003, aka “Pocket PC”.

I’m kind of surprised myself. Like my turn around on Linux, my switch from Palm to PPC happened with a bit of subtlety. I like Palm, and it is in many ways an extremely impressive system. The problem is that these days I’m using my PDA more and more as a laptop replacement. When I travel I really don’t want to take the laptop. I no longer need it to offload pictures from the digicam now that memory’s so cheap, but I do need something to do email and the odd blog post with. The Palm does this fairly well, but it’s a stretch on my T3, and given the growing commonality of Wi-Fi I really wanted to have that built in. I realized that while I’d used my PDA for mostly meetings and phone numbers in the past, my usage had changed.

So while I was checking out the Lifedrive, I checked out the iPAQ and fell in love. Mostly with the screen – it’s awesome, and in most cases better than paper for me. I’d thought that the screen on the T3 was good, but this is twice the dpi. Not only is a bit more info on the screen to be seen (the screen is larger than the T3) but it’s so much sharper. eReader is as good as the book itself.

Another pleasant surprise was Egress – a “blogreader” or RSS reader that connects to Bloglines. Since Bloglines is how I read the blogs that are work related at work, it’s nice to have things kept in sync, although I haven’t tested this yet. On the Palm Quicknews is probably the most competent blogreader, but it’s designed to really be a stand alone reader.

All is not perfect, and the reports that PPC isn’t as crisp as Palm are mostly correct. I’ve had to reset, at least I got impatient and did reset, while I was getting my email (all 80mb worth) downloaded and sorted out. That’s ok, soft resets where becoming a daily occurrence with the T3 anytime I switched between bluetooth and Wi-Fi. WebIS Mail is doing nicely for that so far. The internal messaging is pretty competent, but I’ve got several accounts but prefer to keep everything in one IMAP account because that keeps it portable. The built-in messaging doesn’t allow one to move a message from one account to another. 

Physically the unit is larger than the T3, although it still fits the required shirt pocket with no trouble. It is not heavy enough to cause any notice, although I think it’s heavier than the T3. I put my 1Gb Microdrive in it which adds to the weight.

I haven’t gone through a work week with it yet, not even a day, so it’s possible I might turn back yet. But I doubt it. So far I’m finding a lot of things to like about the iPAQ.

 

Fighting The Livedrive Urge Just Got Easier

I had a chance to see the Lifedrive today at a local CompUSA, and while it wasn’t a real unit (I hate it when they do that!) it was presumably real-life size.

It’s huge. Not so much in the length or width area, but in thickness – it’s just way to thick. It’ s gotta be twice as thick as my T3, and while they rounded some edges in the back to make it more comfortable to hold, it’s still darned thick.

The edges of the screen are concave, which makes the unit a bit uncomfortable to hold. This is really nit-picking, but I noticed it.

I no longer want one so much. Yes, the memory and Wi-Fi would be great to have, but I look at the size and feel it’s just too thick, and it’s not going to be at home in my shirt pocket.

Then I looked around a few other models. I saw the Tapwave Zodiac – it’s pretty cool, but the demo unit wasn’t working and was locked into some kind of holder so I couldn’t really check the unit out. Then I saw the iPAQ 4700 sitting there, with it’s VGA display. That is one really gorgeous unit. I’ve often been tempted to go to the PPC side, and this unit could get me to do it. Well, the cool screen and the bugginess of my T3. I played with it for a while, and I’ve got to say it was pretty impressive. It wasn’t as slow as I expected, and the screen is just so awesome. The only problem was that because it was unfamiliar to me, it wasn’t really that easy to “play” effectively.

One thing that really struck me was the handwriting recognition was really quite effective. Not the graffiti stuff, the actual cursive-recognizing system. It was pretty accurate, and it was nice to use. I’m not sure this would get me to stop using Fitaly, but it might.

Last but not least, there’s both CF and SD slots, which given the current cards I have means 1.5gig of storage – more than enough for the moment, as I’m not a large consumer of mp3 files. Even so, that’s more than a few CD’s worth.

Awfully, awfully tempting…

Fighting The Lifedrive Urge

I want one. I’ve been reading about it everywhere, even on Todd Sadowsky’s site, where his second post is about it.

It’s kind of a stupid thing to want, because I already have a perfectly good T3 that’s working fine. The Lifedrive’s screen isn’t any bigger, and it’s not any faster (quite the contrary by many reports) and it’s not any lighter or smaller. Why do I want one?

Well, part of it is a desire from my bachelor days when general health and happiness was determined in large part by my ability to stay on the leading edge of the technology curve. This meant buying a new palm on a regular basis. The Lifedrive would be palm number six.

The other part of it is a bit more practical – there are 4 giga-reasons and 1 Wi-reason. I want the networking, and I want the memory. I want the networking because even though I have bluetooth filling the house with the T3 getting to the net via that, it’s not all that fast or reliable. Frequently, the bluetooth Internet link will just refuse to play nice, which means a reboot of my desktop. I have the wi-fi card for the T3, and it’s way better than bluetooth.

The problem is that it takes up the slot that gives me enough memory to really have RSS and email on the palm. Just like never having time and money in adequate supply at the same time, so it is with the T3, a 512mb SD card and a wi-fi card. If you have the memory in, you can’t get to the net. If you’re on the net, you can’t get your email because there’s nowhere for it to go. The Lifedrive has enough to spare for now, and even enough to have a few albums, and some documents to boot. Heck, the thing really doesn’t even need a slot except to transfer pics from my digital camera, which is also SD.

There is another dimension to this: Impending travel. I’m going to Gnomedex, where I am told there will be Wi-Fi. It sure would be cool to have a new wireless palm to be settin’ there mobloging during the conference. Of course, it’s unlikely that I wouldn’t bring my laptop as well…or would I?