I Got A Smartphone

November 21, 2011

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I’m pretty sure I just heard Evan‘s head explode with surprise.

I’ve long been a proponent of dumb phones, putting battery life above features.  If they made a rotary dial cell phone that would last for a month on a battery charge, I’d probably own one.

This has been a year of change, though.  A year ago, I firmly resisted eBooks.  Now, I’ve completely gone over to the dark side.  Not only do I own a Kindle (a gently used third-hand model), but even reviewed the Kindle Fire and other new models.

Have I done a complete 180, ditching my dumb phone for an iPhone 4?


While most people use both aspects of a smart phone – the “smart” part and the “phone” part.  In my dual traditions of frugality and non-conformity, I am not.  What I purchased, in reality, it a portable WiFi device.

What did I get?

I got a used Palm Pre.  Lazy Man thinks they are the bee‘s knees, the banana’s pyjamas, and the best thing since sliced bread.  Aside from irresponsible behavior when it comes to baseball – following a team in the inferior American League – we actually see eye to eye on quite a few things.

Earlier, Lazy Man had me convinced to jump on the Touchpad clearance sales, but I was late to the frenzy and came up short.  The Pre is much smaller (cell sized), but also runs the WebOS.  Since I’m a tech guy, I enjoy learning new OSes.

But why?

I’ll be able to check sports scores anywhere I can get a WiFi connection.  Yes, that’s the main reason.  Should come in handy when doing yard work – or even sitting on the couch – or at a location where WiFi is available.

In addition to being a net device, I can also use the Pre as a reader.  I haven’t found a way to load actual Kindle books on it yet, but I can load ePub books.  Not surprisingly, the first book I loaded was Jules Verne’s classic Journey to the Center of the Earth.  Perhaps a bit surprisingly, this was also the second book I loaded.  When I noticed that the first version was the Hardwigg version, I immediately sought out a Lidenbrock version.  This is one of my very favorite books, and I find it very jarring to not have the Lidenbrocks in the book.

The next time I’m stuck in a long line at the grocery story, I’ll just pull out the Pre and read.

I’l searching for a decent Blackjack game I can load via PreWare.  The one I currently have has pretty weak graphics and treats the Ace as always being worth 11 (instead of 11 or 1).  That’s a pretty big flaw in a blackjack game.

Early thoughts

It was more difficult to get past the activation screen than it should have been.  It would have been nice to see something like “activate later”, but I had to flash the rom, run some Java tools, and reboot into developer mode just to get the Pre to a state where I could actually get to the main screen and load software.  Luckily, the Pre community has a lot of helpful documentation, but it was still a pain in the rear.

I also haven’t yet found a way to deactivate the “phone” portion of the Pre, since I will never need to use it.  For the moment, I have at least taken the phone app off the dock and have the Pre set to be on Airplane Mode.

It would also be nice if there was a decent way to get access to the App Catalog without activating the phone.  It seems that there’s a way to do this by jumping through some additional hoops, but I just wanted to get online fast, so I took the route with fewer hoops.

Other than using my wife’s iPhone on occasion, this is my first experience with a touchscreen phone.  The LCD seems to pick up finger prints really easily.


I’d give it a B- so far.  The grade would probably be an A- if not for the extra steps to get the Pre working.  I know very little about WebOS, but seem to be figuring out things are I go.  I keep having to remind myself of the gesture area at the bottom of the screen (touching in this area triggers a variety of actions).

Saturday Stew

July 18, 2009

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Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince opened in theaters at midnight on Wednesday. It broke the record for a midnight screening with $22.2 million is is well on its way to a huge weekend. I’m not fan of the Harry Potter series, but I am definitely a fan of the J.K. Rowling story. Rowling was on welfare before writing the Harry Potter series and becoming a billionaire. What a wonderful rags to riches story. We often hear stories about people who are on welfare for decades and have no real desire to work. Here’s a story about someone who took the assistance offered by the government, and used it to get back on her feet and become a success. The money the British government spent on welfare payments to Rowling ended up being a great investment – as they made it possible for Rowling to pay tremendous tax bills on her subsequent income!

Apple shuts down Palm Pre sync

When the Palm Pre launched, one of its features was the ability to pretend that it was an iPod, allowing it to make use of Apple’s iTunes software. There was some debate over at Lazy Man and Money regarding whether Apple would allow this to occur, or whether they would release a future update to block non-iPod devices. I thought that they would indeed block the Pre, and felt that they had the right to do this, asserting that it was not an unfair barrier to competition to force Palm to bundle a iTunes-like product with the Pre.

On Wednesday, Apple released iTunes version 8.2.1. According to Apple, “iTunes 8.2.1 provides a number of important bug fixes and addresses an issue with verification of Apple devices” – in other words, if iTunes can’t verify that your device is an iPod, you can no longer sync with it. Palm is suggesting that Pre own simply cease upgrading iTunes to retain the ability to sync.


Google has announced plans to launch their own operating system, Chrome OS. Chrome OS will be a simple operating system that is based on Linux. Chrome is not expected to be as feature-rich as operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS X or Microsoft’s Windows. On the flip side, the computer should boot more quickly (fewer things to load) and run faster (due to the operating system requiring fewer system resources). Chrome OS will essentially allow a computer to run Google’s Chrome web browser. Will Chrome OS be a solution for everyone? No. But if you spend nearly all of your computer time in your web browser, it may be a good fit for you.

Google’s free web-based productivity suite Google Docs will face competition from Microsoft, as the software giant has announced plan to release a free web-based version of Microsoft Office next year. The web version won’t include all of the features that will be available on the desktop version of Office, but it might be a good solution for many people.


The country of Ukraine has banned the Sacha Baron Cohen movie “Bruno”, saying that the movie is immoral. This will certainly be a death blow to the movie, ensuring lackluster crowds.

Oh, hey, just kidding. What I meant to say is that Sacha Baron Cohen will use this publicity to bolster his “bad boy” image, and that the banning will make more people flock to the theater to see what all the fuss is about.


Bank of America, which is not one of my favorite companies, charged a New Hampshire man 23 quadrillion dollars for a purchase at a local gas station where he often purchased cigarettes. The man was also charged a $15 “over the limit” free. After two hours on the phone, Bank of America removed the charge and the fee from his account.

Capitol Shooting

Officers shot and killed a man near the US Capitol on Wednesday. The man was trying to elude police. He jumped out of his car and began shooting at officers. I stumble across this sort of story occasionally, and always wonder what on earth is going through the person’s head. Do they think that the cops aren’t going to shoot back?

Sears Tower

The Sears Tower is no longer the tallest building in the United States. What happened? Did someone sneakily build a taller building? No, the Sears Towers was renamed Willis Tower as part of an agreement with Willis Group Holdings. The 110 story tall tower opened in 1973. Sears moved out of the building in 1992, but the Sears named has been retained until now. I wonder how many years (or decades) will pass before Chicagoans begin referring to it as Willis Tower?


The Yankees recently signed Damian Arrendondo, a 16 year old shortstop from the Dominican Republic, to a contract worth $850,000. (Note: international players may be signed as young as 16). Major League Baseball invalidated the contract when it was determined that the player was not actually named Damian Arrendondo, and that he was older than 16. No word yet on whether he is truly a shortstop.

Why the fascination with ages of these kids? After all, if a player is good, he’s good, regardless of whether he is 16 or 18, right?

Not exactly. Take this outside of the baseball world for a bit. If a 1 year old can count to 10, he’s a genius. If a 7 year old can count to 10, you’re not impressed. Yet, it’s the exact same skill. It’s the same with baseball skills. A 16 year old may exhibit the exact same skills as an 18 year old, but the 16 year old is a better prospect because he’s ahead of his peer group in the development curve.