Tag Archives: smartphone

A(nother) tale of two phones

When I first entered the realm of smartphone existence in June of 2009, I went with the Palm Pre. I made a really bad decision for a few good reasons:

1) One of my very close friends works as a mobile technology analyst for a very large bank. He anticipated that, based on the initial reviews the Pre was getting, it could be the phone to finally break the iPhone’s choke hold on the smartphone market. I am a fan of dark horses.

2) Being one of the first-wave adopters was a risk, and I am a risk-taking sort of person.

3) My contract with Verizon was up and the Pre was just about to be released.

When I first got it, I was ecstatic. I still appreciate many of its features: Its Linux-based Web OS operating system is sleek and intuitive, its universal address book flawlessly syncs information between your online and mobile contacts, and its battery life is pretty good once you learn that searching for signal and the GPS are what drains it (putting it in airplane mode when you’re out of range and disabling the GPS fixes this).

But it didn’t take long before I started to encounter some deal-breaking problems. On multiple occasions (including right now), it would seemingly arbitrarily decide to stop syncing my email. The first time this happened, hours on the phone with tech support and two trips to the Sprint store could not remedy the problem, and I ended up getting a replacement phone. Sprint’s tech support is so abysmal that the next five times this happened, instead of stressing myself out by dealing with those people, I simply went without email on my phone until the problem seemingly arbitrarily fixed itself after a few days/weeks. It’s gotten extremely sluggish over time, with the touch-screen commands executing a good 5 seconds after they were initiated, sometimes more. The camera phone app now takes minutes to open, if it does at all. And finally, the PHONE APP broke, so I haven’t been able to make or receive calls for about two months.

It soon became clear the Pre was not the dark horse some had hoped it would be. Aside from the hardware problems, or maybe because of them, mobile application builders stopped investing time and resources on WebOS aps. And the app catalog was a mess to begin with, and nobody ever cleaned it up. I could get by for a while, but then even the facebook app stopped working and I couldn’t post photos to the web anywhere with my phone. After Twitter changed its authentication method to OAuth, none of the Twitter apps for the Pre worked anymore, and still nobody has bothered to fix them or make new ones.

Me = Fed up.

Thankfully, my friend Dave Winer, after seeing me suffer in a state of smartphone limbo for quite some time, gave me a spare phone he had as an early birthday present. Thank you X a million, Dave!!!

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Say you’re stranded on an island…

Figure 1: My creation using GraphJam.com's Graph Builder. It's a pretty sweet ap.

I finally got around to downloading the Flash Player that I needed to create my own GraphJams and made this earlier while trying to figure out of the Palm Pre’s coverage will extend to Haiti, where I’m going on Sunday. It will be a critical factor in my decision to purchase it. I have read that the Palm Pre is not considered a worldphone and my search attempts were not successful in locating information regarding International coverage. In the event that coverage won’t extend to there, I will be torn about what to do because honestly, I just don’t think I can go that long without my beloved Internets. I go into withdrawal when I am apart for merely hours, and if you think this is a joke, you’ve obviously never been around me for an extended period of time. I get moody and irritable, I start looking for excuses to get out of whatever situation I’m in so that I can go home and get my fix, relationships in my life suffer,

Me: You mean you want to go OUT? Uhh… sorry I have to… work.

Potential suitor: But you’re unemployed!

Me: But I Tweet like it’s my job. Don’t question.

and while it may be classified as an addiction by some, it’s no cause for concern. If I ever attempt to donate my eggs to pay the Comcast bill or start sleeping with strangers for their Internet access, THEN I will check myself into Amish rehab. In the mean time, smartphone here I come!

Some people are surprised to learn that I don’t have a smartphone currently, but it was actually a very deliberate decision. I know that when I get one, it will be the end of my organic existence; it will be the precipitating factor in the chain of events that will seal my fate as a cyborg. Well, OK. Not *the* precipitating factor, as I am fond of determinism and the idea that such a factor is actually indefinable as part of a chain of events that extends well past my birth and therefore we are not responsible for our actions (damn you philosophy!). But yes, dear readers, one of these days, I can quite positively say I will cease to be Arikia the human, and will be born anew as Arikia the badass robotically-enhanced genius computing babe. And I am ready to accept that.

Figure 2: An artists rendition of me, nonchalantly leaning on a post reading some science news via a future version of the Kindle while a robot dude tries to hit on me. I skillfully ignore him. Some things never change. (Image from Smashing Magazine.)

Figure 2: An artist's rendition of me, nonchalantly leaning on a post reading some science news via a future version of the Kindle while a robot dude tries to hit on me. I skillfully ignore him. Some things never change. (Image from Smashing Magazine.)

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Why Palm Pre is the phone for me (even if it isn’t the one for Gizmodo)

Alternate title: Why “Mac people” shouldn’t review tech gadgets. In this Gizmodo review of the new Palm Pre, Jason Chen loses much credibility as soon as he gives himself away as a Mac Person by criticizing the Pre’s address book system: “I was able to pull my contacts from Facebook and Google into the phone quite easily, despite the Pre not supporting syncing to OS X Address Book, so it was a near-seamless transition.” The fact that this software is only available for iPhones, is the first clue of Chen’s bias. But in my humble opinion, simply using a Mac product does not make one a “Mac person”. I use a MacBook primarily, but I also appreciate PCs and operating systems oriented towards PC users, and can adapt to virtually any piece of technology if necessary. To me a “Mac person” is someone who values “user friendliness” above all else — even above the ability to use the technology to its full potential and craft it to her own specifications. Mac people generally want everything pre-packaged and don’t care if they don’t have the option to customize or modify specific features. Being a Mac person isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does limit one’s ability to analyze new technologies, much like Chen’s perspective is in his review. Though he gives it pretty good ratings overall, he is obviously iPhone-centric and has several petty complaints about features that sound like they would be a plus for someone like me:

Design

The first thing you’ll notice as you slide open the Pre is the absurdly sharp ridge digging against your palm. Nowhere—not on the iPhone, the G1, the G2 or any of HTC’s other smartphones—has a phone been so threatening to the integrity of my skin.

Cry me a river, Mac Boy. I like my phones like I like my analyses: sharp. If you cut your finger, it’s your own fault for making a classic Mac person mistake: NOT READING THE DIRECTIONS until after the fact. At least you learned the error of your ways and realized that you’re supposed to push up from the screen to open. I may be a rarity in that I enjoy reading instruction manuals cover-to-cover, but IMO it’s like voting: If you don’t do it, STFU and stop complaining.

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