The Wonder of Today’s Mobile Computing…

1st Gen iPod Touch

1st Gen iPod Touch

Everyday I look around and I’m amazed how far our technology has come. I was born in 1972 (which makes me old to a lot of you, and a baby to just as many). Video entertainment was constrained Television and Pong. During the 80’s, we saw the first home computers (with a whopping 128Kb of ram and 5.25 floppy disks!), VCR’s (top loaders that weighed approximately 500 lbs), Laser disks (which were really Stereo LP’s for your TV), and Mobile Phones (which often weighed more than the first VCRs). Late in the decade, Nintendo, replaced Atari, as Compact Discs replace cassette tapes (which replaced 8 tracks, which replace LPs)

The Nineties gave us cell phones that were truly mobile (if not exactly comfortable in your pocket), Faster & more powerful computers, the first laptop systems, DVD’s, and PDA’s.

Here, towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium, Mobile computing is nearing perfection (in my eyes) and I’m not sure where it can go from here. Don’t get me wrong, it will continue to get better, I’m just not sure how.

My first true mobile device was my Palm Tungsten E. I had another palm before that, but it was really limited on what it could do. With the Tungsten E, it was really a little computer in my hand. There were lots of developers out there creating games and applications for it. It was fast, colorful, and fun ( and I still have in a drawer somewhere), but I couldn’t get the internet on it. It really needed connectivity.

So my next mobile device was the Palm TX. It had a bigger screen, faster processer, more colors, more memory than the Tungsten E. But most importantly it had WiFi (and Bluetooth for phones). I could get my email (more or less, it wasn’t perfect) and browse the web. The applications and games were much more elaborate. I kept all my contact  and calendar information (it’s orginal purpose). It had one fatal flaw, the digitizer.

The Palm TX had a touch sensitive screen, like all Palm PDAs before it. Unlike all Palm PDAs before it, its digitizer was made of plastic, not glass. I paid over $300 for it, the digitizer should have been made of glass. What’s the problem with the plastic digitizer? Mad Digitizer Sydrome, and Dead Spots. Here’s a Google Search for Mad Digitizer Syndrome. MDS is when you tap on the screen in one place and the screen thinks you tapped in a different place. Dead Spots are just that, dead spots on your screen that don’t respond to any tapping. I had both.

I had created a little poll to find out if anyone else had screen problems with the Palm TX, and over 150 people responded. 1 in 2 people had MDS, dead spots, or both. I even sent it in for repair and they sent it back without even looking at it. I really don’t have anything nice to say about Palm any more.

My back up mobile computer was my PlayStation Portable. Even though I could browse the net, listen to music, watch videos, and play quality games on it, it just wasn’t a mobile computer. It was more a mobile entertainment center.

The near ultimate mobile device I own now is my 16 gigabyte 1st Generation iPod Touch. When I first bought it, Apple hadn’t released the software development kit yet, so there wasn’t any official apps for the Touch. But hackers out there had hacked the Touch and were releasing apps and games of their own. I hacked my iPod (or ‘jailbroke’ it), and was downloading apps and games. The Jailbroke Touch was a fairly unstable, and more than one occasion I had to reset back to factory setting to fix it.

Apple opened up the app store, and we were finally able to official apps. While Apple must approve every application that gets added to the store (angering a lot of software developers), the shear amount of applications that appaered was  amazing. Now my Touch was finally a suitable replacement for my Palm TX. I could browse the web on a superior web browser. I had a email application that not only worked, but worked well. All my contact and calendar information was stored in it. And now I could

  • Securely store account information.
  • Check the weather with radar.
  • Get directions with google earth.
  • Get local and national news.
  • Shop directly with Ebay, Amazon, Target with their own apps.
  • Listen to Online Radio Stations.
  • Search and watch YouTube videos.
  • Search, buy, download, and listen to music from iTunes, not to mention my own MP3s.
  • Watch Movies and TV Shows I upload from my Computer.
  • Use it as my digital photo album.
  • Load it up with as much useless games and crap as I want.

But the best feature, in my humble opinion, is being able to read EBooks on my iPod. I started reading ebooks about 3-4 years ago, and I can count the number of dead tree books I’ve read since then on one hand (actually, one finger). The touch has a number of different ereaders, but my favorite is iSilo, because that was what I used on my Palm TX and I have a very large library in the iSilo format. My next recommendation would be Stanza, for the ease of getting free books, and the ease of use. I use and love both apps.

But it’s still not perfect. The iPod was still limited to connecting to WiFi hotspots. Hard to check your email on the bus, or see if you got sniped on Ebay if you are not connected. Enter the end all be all of mobile computing: The 2nd Generation iPhone.

The 2nd Gen iPhone has all the features the iPod touch has, including:

  • GPS, used in conjuction google earth, or one of a thousand applications, you’ll never get lost again.
  • Voice recording (You can do this with 2nd Gen iPod Touch)
  • It’s a mobile phone and all features a phone has.
  • Supremely simple Text and Multimedia messaging.
  • A 2 megapixel camera, and the photo’s are geotagged.
  • WiFi or 3G connectivity. As long as you have a phone signal, you havae a internet connection.

There are plenty more features, but I cannot list them all here. The best line I have heard that describes the iPhone is ‘iPhone, God probably has one’. You can do practically do anything with it, and it fits in your pocket (much to the chagrin of a friend of mine, who found out that the iPhone no likey the washing machine). And if you have one of the new Net Book computers (it’s a full featured laptop that’s about 1/3 to 1/4 the size of a full laptop. You could carry it in your coat pocket) there are ways to use the iPhone as a modem.

Mobile computing has reached a point that truly is a amazing, I can’t wait to see where it goes.



My Christmas Present…

GoofballMy Christmas present this year is a Toshiba Satellite L305d-S5900 Laptop. Unfortunately it’s hardware failed with in a day, and started repeatedly BSODing. It was terribly annoying considering I spent the first day setting it all up to be my Photography computer.

A quick jaunt back to the store, and quick and painless return, and I had another one. I’ve had no problems yet. After a doing some research, I haven’t found many problems with this particular model. It appears to be pretty damn solid, and I will continue to recommend it to others. Although, the web cam doesn’t take a flattering picture.

This is a first for me in two ways. It’s my first laptop, something I have been avoiding getting for a long time. I’ve built every PC I’ve ever owned with the exception of the first one, and you cannot build a laptop (well… I’m sure you can, but I haven’t the skill for that). But I wanted something I can work my photography on, and so I can start writing again. Something I can take with me on photography shoots.

Second, this is my first time dealing with Windows Vista. To tell you the truth, I don’t much care for it. Oh there are some good things about it, but the annoyance factors are multiple. I don’t like the fact it asks me for permission to do things I told it to do! Seriously, cut the shit, it would increase my productivity tenfold if I didn’t have to tell it to do everything twice. I want to be able to tell it how much hard drive space to use for system restore. At one check, it was using 15 gb in system restore points. There’s no need for that. Also, put all the settings back where they were in XP so I can find them! I spend more time looking for things than actually getting stuff done. And stop denying me access to parts of my hard drive! I want to see what the hell your hiding in there…

The list goes on and on, but I won’t bore you with the details. According to this story, I can wipe the hard drive and install XP. If I was sure this would work, and all the features would be available to me, I would certainly try it. Who knows, maybe in the future, if Vista becomes too much of a hog, I’ll give it a shot. There’s a learning curve to all new operating system (trying Linux if you’ve never admined a linux box before), so I’m sure in the long run it will work out fine.

And I’ve already wrote the first couple pages to my first short story in decades.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday and got what they wanted, I did 🙂

And a Happy New Year if I don’t get to post before the first.


How to sync an iPhone with two (or more) Computers :: Shiny Things

I figured with the holiday coming, and people getting shiny new gadgets and computers, that this bit of information should be passed along. Many Many (MANY) thanks to Andrew Grant @ Shiny Things for figuring it out and posting this.

How to sync an iPhone with two (or more) Computers :: Shiny Things.

Hope everyone has a great holiday!