Tuesday, August 12, 2008

OK, I give up.

The perfect mobile phone does not exist, I am defeated.

The Nokia E71 is not available in a variety that supports NextG.
The Nokia E51 does not support video calling.
The HTC Dual Touch does not have WiFi.
The Samsung Blackjack does not support video calling, uses proprietary connectors, and is no longer widely available.
The assorted iMate and HTC devices are too big.
The Blackberry Bold has promise, but is not yet available and is too expensive.
The iPhone.... don't even go there.

When the E71-3 is released I'll get one, until then I give up. Why is it so hard to get a phone that does what I want?

Minor restoration of faith

Amazingly, I’ve actually now found TWO things I think Paypal is good for!

I’m normally a staunch critic of Paypal, in particular the integration with eBay – as far as I’m concerned, eBay’s attempt to force users onto Paypal is at best 3rd line product forcing. The next thing you’ll see is Woolworth’s announcing you can only pay via for purchases via their official Woolworth’s credit card. The last time I looked, cash was still legal tender – from Wikipedia: "legal tender or forced tender is payment that, by law, cannot be refused in settlement of a debt". (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_tender)

Incidentally, according to the RBA (http://www.rba.gov.au/currencynotes/legalframework/legal_tender.html) that definition has apparently been lifted directly from Concise Oxford Dictionary… J

Where it gets interesting is this:

“It is the Bank's understanding that, although Australian currency has legal tender status, it does not necessarily have to be used in transactions. Under the legal tender provisions of the Currency Act 1965 and the Reserve Bank Act 1959, refusal to accept payment in legal tender notes and coins is not unlawful. This is the case even where an existing debt is involved. However, a refusal to accept legal tender in payment of an existing debt, where no other means of payment/settlement has been specified in advance, conceivably could have consequences in legal proceedings, i.e. the creditor may be unable to enforce payment in any other form.”

I wonder if this gets the bastards off the hook? I still don’t like being forced to use Paypal, nor accept it. From now onwards, my auctions will contain a “Paypal fee” in the shipping – if the charge is going to be levied then I’m passing it on to the buyer. If they don’t like it, then pay via direct deposit, which I would prefer, and I’ll discount the fee.

As a genuine use, Paypal is useful for overseas purchases – no hassles with currency conversions.

In this case though, I have successfully used a Paypal claim to force repayment from a little turd who flogged me a dodgy mobile phone. I had the thing less than 48 hours before the keyboard started to play up, and it now only responds after total removal of the battery – and then malfunctions shortly afterwards. eBay of course won’t let you lodge a dispute with them for at least another 10 days, designed to frustrate you into sorting it out for yourself, or hoping you’ll give up. Luckily Paypal has no such time limitations, and has ruled that full repayment is in order.

I'm also putting the seller on watch in eBay for any new items he lists, and if he relists the phone without suitable warning to potential buyers then I'm reporting the auction to eBay.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Aaargh, mobiles. :(

I’m not doing well with mobile phones lately.


After my Samsung SGH-A501 started eating batteries, I decided it was time to trade up to a nice Samsung SGH-A801.  They’re not a bad phone – slim, light, good keyboard.  The slider form factor is OK too, but they have a major downside – they are a dust and lint magnet due to the mechanism, which sucks if they live in your pocket like mine does.  The proprietary connectors for everything are also a drag, but the camera is quite nice.  It also pissed me off that I couldn’t remap the softkeys.  Bloody telco branding.


After living happily with the A801 for about 6 months I was bitten by the bug to be able to do mobile e-mail, preferably via WiFi to minimise painful telco data costs.  Enter an iMate JasJam, which I promptly upgraded to Windows Mobile 6 and the SPC MobileShell.  It sucked.  More importantly, it sucked for about 90 minutes until I gave up on it in disgust, which may be a record even for me.  The screen and keyboard were nice, but couldn’t make up for the heavy, clunky form factor, crappy actual PHONE capability (protip: iMate, if you’re gonna make a smartphone, make sure the bloody phone actually works) and general unusability.  Exit the JasJam.


Enter a nice Nokia E51.  Solid as a rock (albeit quite heavy), WiFi, MP3 ringtones, boring DC barrel plug charging and USB data connector… everything I wanted.  The Symbian OS is slightly quirky (you can’t kill the screensaver, and you can have the desktop shortcuts *or* the keyboard shortcuts – not both) but generally no complaints.  It lasted 48 hours before the keyboard died.   :(    I’m currently having a Paypal arbitration over that one.  Exit the E51.


Enter a new Nokia E71 next week…. Let’s see if I can kill another phone off in a matter of weeks.  >:|

Saturday, August 2, 2008

/me is lazy

Wow, haven't posted for a while here.  Lazy bastard, eh?
I was just reading an article in APC, which is unusual in of itself in that normally I wouldn't buy APC with your money.  It's corporate, slick, can't make up its mind whether its aimed at the technology terrified, hackers, gamers, business or enterprise users, and half of it is ads that the buyer is paying for.  On the other hand, the 12 month subscription is a work freebie so meh.  :)
The article was bullshitting on about lack of support for older OSs, as owned by the classic cling-to-Win98/ME crew - usually on the grounds that the thing is a Celeron 500 with 256MB or RAM and a 99% full 10GB drive, and frankly it can't run anything else.  The APC columnist's brilliant answer?  Use Linux!
Would someone please take the Linux zealots of the world out and shoot them.  I will admit that I have dabbled in Linux briefly, both installed and live versions, and I've never lasted very long.  Frankly, XP does everything I need a PC to do, with acceptable stability - not that crashes still aren't bloody annoying.  Even Vista can be bludgeoned into something resembling XP once you turn most of the (in)security crap off.  In the meantime, my interest levels in learning commands like "tar -c dir/ | gzip | gpg -c | ssh user@remote 'dd of=dir.tar.gz.gpg' " compared to telling WinRAR to save my archive to a remote directory using click navigation, or "mount -t smbfs -o fmask=666,guest //windows_box/share /mnt/share" compared to using the Windows shell (or even, dog forbid, a command line "net use share: //path" command) are roughly at the same level as getting my genitals pierced.
Ye olde wannabe Amish Win98 owner is as much a candidate for Linux as I am for an old Cray-1.  Both are so far beyond our respective needs that it's not worth the time to learn to take advantage of the environment, and we simply want to be able to do what we want with the minimum aggravation possible.  This doesn't seem to be something that your average Linux zealot understands, they're too busy either thinking they're anti-corporate rebels or "being in control of their PC" - which means taking twice as long and ten times as much effort, apparently.
I like the concept of Linux, but there's a Dilbert catroon that summarises it perfectly; an engineer sits in front of his PC muttering "I'll make the command easy to remember, like CTRL-ALT-F4-DEL.  And if they forget that, they can just edit the source code in COMMAND.COM.  Perfect!"
Linux is an environment built by geeks, for geeks, who like being geeks, and don't mind the geekiness of something interfering with actually trying to achieve something with it - as long as it's geeky.  That's fine as a toy, but in the meantime the rest of the world just wants to get on with it, you know?  Quite to the opposite of the common saying, most people just want to arrive at their destination as quickly and hassle-free as possible; the journey, far from being part of the experience, is actually a pain in the arse.