Saturday, December 31, 2005

Top 10 List

I did a Top 10 list for top tech products of 2004, so here's my top 10 list of Tech products for 2005, in no particular order. Some products were also on the 2004 list, which means they (or their updated versions) still are good.
I've limited this list to products I've actually used or own - how can
I put the Sony VAIO Laptop on my top 10 list if I don't have one?):

Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable)

Mozilla Firefox 1.5 browser

Opera 8.5x browser (finally advert free)

BackupMan PalmOS Backup software

Palm(One) Treo 600 smartphone

VMWare Workstation ( nudges out Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 with its powerful features)

Google Mail - Free 2.6+ GB

Partition Magic 8 - its been around for a while and has changed ownership, but is the most powerful utility of its kind out there

Palm(One) Tungsten T3 (yes I know it's been replaced by the T5 which has been replaced by the TX, but it still rocks)

PalmOS text editor (I write a lot of my blog entries in this excellent powerful editor)

Monday, December 26, 2005

Treo things that bug me

1. Although the screen is bright the screen resolution is a paltry 160 by 160 pixels, and can only display 3375 colors
2. Processor - 144MHz, which makes it slower than the handheld I replaced. To be honest, I only really noticed this when I was trying to do that failed restore, and the list of files took ages to refresh.
3. Rounded keyboard keys. These really hurt the tips of my thumbs (especially when writing a blog entry like this). Apparently this has been fixed on the Treo 650.

The rest are minor usability issues like two Power-on keys. One is the wireless mode button, and the other is the Screen on off key - the only difference is that if you keep on pressing the wireless mode button the phone switches on. These two buttons confused the heck out my security software until they released a patch to cater for switching on the device with the screen button.
I never expected the camera to be much good, but the same resolution camera on the Motorola V600 cellphone takes better pictures.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Backup problems

I switched on my Treo yesterday morning and BackupBuddyVFS had crashed the night before night at 11:30pm. So I installed the latest version of BackupBuddyVFS and my security program crashed at 11:30pm. Uninstalled BackupBuddyVFS and nothing crashed.
Decided to switch to BackupMan for backups until have sorted out problems with BackupBuddyVFS. BackupMan costs a third of the price of BackupBuddyVFS, and although it doesn't have features like encryption or compression, its scheduling capabilities are better than BackupBuddyVFS and it works.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Costly games

When the Xbox 360 came out recently I was taken aback at the cost of games - from around $60 ($59.99). I shouldn't have been surprised, as games for the Sony PSP go for $30 (on special) to $50 for new releases. In "Brick and Mortar" stores used games are only about $5-$10 cheaper.

Some examples:
Need for Speed Underground: Rivals costs $29.99 on after $20.00 savings (but it is "not available").
The same game goes for $25 on eBay - shipping included, and in good condition.
Ridge Racer is $39.99 and is "Out of Stock" on
Brand new on eBay it'll cost you around $37.99 including shipping. A used Ridge Racer would go for about $15 including shipping, which is a big difference. Of course with the used games there is an element of risk.

Monday, December 19, 2005

GSM Rules

Well, most of the time.
Since my posting about temporarily switching from the Treo 600 to the Motorola V600 (" Smartphone struck dumb"), I've been asked by two people if I needed to phone my cellular provider to activate my old phone. One of the advantages of GSM is the SIM card. The SIM card has the telephone number and even phonebook entries. All I did was switch the SIM card from the Treo to the Motorola and turn the Motorola on.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Treo up and running

I finally got Treo restored, but all my data is not there yet. It now appears that Treo Butler was probably not the culprit, but more likely shareware program called ToDo2.

I'm also not too happy about BackupBuddyVFS
- it was not a cheap utility and the restore just didn't work properly - I may be contacting their support...

My relationship with my previously trusty Treo has soured somewhat, not helped by the fact that using a normal flip cellphone was so much easier...

Friday, December 16, 2005

To be fair

Just to be fair - the software which I blamed in my last Blog Entry as having crashed my Treo (Treo Butler) may not have been the only culprit, or may not have been responsible at all. I had loaded a shareware program called ToDo2 and a freeware program called ToDo Archive just a day or so before - any one of them (or a combination) could have been the cause.

I also complained about Treo Butler on the website where I downloaded it, and was contacted by the developer the very next day to try to resolve the problem. Unfortunately after the hard reset there is nothing left on the Treo to debug.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Smartphone struck dumb

Okay, now I've run into one of the major problems with having a handheld computer and a cellphone integrated on the same device.

Last night I upgraded a utility program - Treo Butler, to version 3.4. I have been running earlier versions since just after I got the Treo. This time a minute or so after I had run the program the phone began making a low-pitched tone and froze. The only way to stop it was a soft reset. From there this just got worse. The noise persisted, so I hard reset the Palm (like Format C: in DOS) and tried to restore from a backup. The backup software, which I has restored from before, got to a file and then just reset the Treo. So I had to check the log and restore from after the file it choked on, a painstakingly slow process. After all of this, the Treo made that continuous tone on the first dialog and froze. After a few more hard resets and attempted restores, I was close to throwing the dumb smartphone against a wall.

Fortunately my cell service is GSM, and I had my old phone handy, so I
could just switch the SIM card to the old phone (after recharging it all
night). The handheld wasn't that simple. The Tapwave Zodiac was pressed into service temporarily. Fortunately Both the Treo and the Zodiac use a SecureDigital Card, so I was able to recover some of my data onto the quick

For now at least, I'm back to carrying two devices...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Not quite bleeding edge

Firefox 1.5 has been out of beta since November 30th, and I've only installed it today. Of course my favorite (favourite) Firefox Extension, PrefBar, has not been updated for this version yet...

Monday, December 05, 2005

What about the games?

So I mentioned the Sony PSP was an excellent gaming console but what about the games?
I have five games, three of which I play more than the others.
Need for Speed Underground Rivals is one game I didn't expect to like that much. Instead, Need for Speed is the game I play the most - probably because I have managed to win a lot of the races.
Ridge Racer, on the other, hand has beautiful graphics for the racing locations and tracks, but I have yet to win a race - starting in 12th position is a big difference from starting in fourth position in a three lap race.
Then there is Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories. This is one of the most popular PSP games to date. The game content is rather amoral but the game opens an intriguing universe to explore. It is a relatively difficult game - or at least I find some of the missions rather challenging - having to try several times, and getting "Wasted" each time before completing a mission. At least you are not totally stuck, as you can go off and take part in side missions or just explore the dangerous city. My character was exploring the dock area, looking for hidden packages (collect enough hidden packages and you get additional items available to you, from guns to motorcycles). There happens to be a strike on there and some of the strikers took exception to his presence and wasted him. Next time he went down there with a baseball bat and turned the tables on the attackers...

The other two games are Namco Museum Battle Collection & Wipeout Pure.
The Museum Battle Collection is a bunch of arcade games which just don't grab me.
Wipeout Pure is a Sci-Fi racing game, but I just haven't been able to get into it.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sony PSP - one month later

Well, I've only logged about 15 hours for the month, as I don't play every day (too much else to do with my time). I have been mentioning the Tapwave Zodiac a lot, but that's because I'm playing with the software part of it. The Sony PSP is an excellent gaming console, and the games on it simply blow away the Zodiac.

With the 2.50 firmware upgrade, there is a usable web browser for the built-in Wi-Fi, so I can check my Google Mail, or Yahoo - really useful. Setting up the PSP to access a WEP encrypted wireless router was really simple. I still want to try one of the multiplayer games over the internet - once I'm good enough at a game that I won't get totally creamed...

As for video, I've watched a few movie trailers which I've downloaded, and the 4.3 inch screen is excellent for personal video watching. Apparently most of the major movie picture studios in Hollywood are planning to release their movies in the UMD (Universal Media Disc) format - there is a whole schedule of release dates for movies like "Batman Returns" and even "The Matrix" in this format.

I've also downloaded some pictures so I can change the wallpaper every now and then. As for music, I haven't really bothered - I'm sure it's a capable music player, and the latest firmware update, 2.60, adds support for Windows Media .wma files.

So far I'm quite happy with the Playstation Portable, and when I see the games coming down the line (like Sims 2), hopefully there'll be more R&R hours I can spend playing games on it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Zodiac Recommendation

Would I recommend buying a Tapwave Zodiac?
Well, unless you really have the money to spare, I wouldn't recommend buying a new one. There is no longer a Tapwave Inc to back the warranty.

Instead I would recommend a gently used (and not too old, because of battery life) "pre-owned" Zodiac. Also, if you can afford it, go for the Zodiac 2 which has 128MB of RAM (which is not funky NVFS )

Used Zodiacs are available on eBay

New Zodiacs can be found at

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Why free?

Why is Microsoft giving away Visual Basic Express and other Development languages in the Visual Studio Express Suite (that is, apart from any conspiracy theories).

There are a number of Editions of Visual Studio 2005, and the Express Edition is the most limited (it's really basic).

The other editions, according to this link are:

Visual Studio Standard Edition
Visual Studio Professional Edition
Visual Studio 2005 Team System

So, why the free Express edition? Simple, apart from trying to attract first time programmers and hobbyist programmers to Visual Studio .Net. There are still a large number of hobbyist programmers using Visual Basic 6. This is one way Microsoft is trying to entice them to get into .Net Development. They will of course need at least the Professional Edition to develop full blown applications, but the Express Edition is a free introduction.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Microsoft gives away Visual Basic!

Well, Visual Basic (.Net) 2005 Express that is.

It was announced some time ago that Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Express Edition would be free (MS's attempt way to counter MySQL, FireBird and all the other free database engines).
Now Microsoft is giving away the Express Editions of Visual Studio free for one year.

Of course there is a catch - these development tools will only run on Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Vista (previously known as Longhorn).

The free Visual Studio Express products which are available are:

Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition
Visual Basic 2005 Express Edition
Visual C# 2005 Express Edition
Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition
Visual J# 2005 Express Edition

Friday, November 25, 2005

Multimedia in my hand

No, I'm not talking about movies on ridiculously small cellphone screens or the Sony PSP and UMD format movies. Instead, I'm referring to the Tapwave Zodiac Palm with it's incredible 3.8-inch display (480-by-320 pixels and 65,536 colors).
I simply copied an AVI file (a recorded episode of a "Lois and Clark") to a directory on the SecureDigital Card and the freeware TCPMP (The Core Pocket Media Player) played it without a problem.
The test of course will be how long the Tapwave Zodiac can play on one battery charge.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Flavors

(or - two flavours, for non US English readers)

It was only today that I learned about the 2 different models of Xbox 360

Xbox 360 Full System including 20GB Hard drive etc (see GameSpot)

Xbox 360 Core System (stripped down, no extras) - also see GameSpot

Interestingly enough, the Sony PSP also comes in two flavours: with and without the Value Pack

Monday, November 21, 2005

Microsoft does a 360

Microsoft has done a 360 degree turn on its plan of domination with the XBox 360 according to this article in My Way News

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Didn't take you for a gamer

That's been the response from two different people after I mentioned that I had bought a Sony PSP. What does a gamer look like?

All I know is that despite the amoral story line, GTA LCS
(love these acronyms!) is one incredible game to play on the PSP. It's really challenging, and forces you to think ahead, you'll get "Wasted" if you don't.

So, I in my alter-ego as a gamer I browse around in PSP411, 1UP and GameFAQs.

Still, this guy is someone I'd really call a gamer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Getting around it

I managed to HotSync my Tapwave Zodiac 1 with a Windows XP VMWare Virtual Machine running on a Windows 2000 partition. Why would I want to do this? Because the Palm Desktop software which comes with the "Zod" is almost certain to clash with the Treo's Palm Desktop. There are other reasons as well, like keeping the same Palm user name for the Tapwave Zodiac so my registered software will run on both. I can only use one handheld device at a time (I'd use more if I could), so I'm not going to buy another set of the registered software I use. For other family members Palms its a different story - I buy another license.
By the way, Microsoft Virtual PC 2004 lacks USB support which effectively rules out doing things like this.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Goodbye, C Drive

I managed to mess up my second machine. Updating Debian Linux was taking ages, even though I have a fast Broadband connection. The Synaptic updater was not very friendly, and kept asking hard to understand questions. I got to thinking "Fedora Core 4 Linux's updater (called yum) is far more friendly."

Then, just to prove how unfriendly it is there was some warning message about updating LILO, but it said not to answer yes if there were other Operating Systems on the PC. There are a number of others, so I said No, which apparently wasn't the right answer. After the next reboot Debian Linux was no longer working...

Now I needed another Linux Distro, preferably one a bit more up to date than Debian Linux sarge - but not as "cutting edge" as Fedora Core 4 - because of hardware limitations on my older PC.
I looked at the highly rated SUSE Linux but the hardware requirements were to heavy. I also looked at Slackware Linux but a review said it needed configuration files to be hand edited.
Finally I downloaded Ubuntu Linux 5.10.

8:00 pm
I installed Ubuntu Linux 5.10 but initially it wanted to install the GRUB Boot Loader - which doesn't work with XOSL, which I use to boot between the multiple Operating Systems - Windows XP, and 3 separate instances of Windows 98 (don't ask why). Anyway, I fiddled around for a bit but couldn't get Ubuntu Linux to boot so eventually I left it for later..

Okay, to continue the saga. Now when I booted into my main Windows 98 partition it showed Drive D: as Drive E: and an unreadable FAT partition as Drive D: This unreadable FAT partition on Compaq Presario Desktop was possibly a bootable Linux partition - so deleted it with Partition Magic 8 from bootable floppy.

To be continued...

(Sorry, General, no cell phone stuff to blog about - you could have a look at Mikan Moblog or MobileBlog.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

General question

Today I got asked the general question: "What is that (Tapwave Zodiac) you were blogging about?"

I apologize for assuming my reader(s?) would know what I was referring to.

The Tapwave Zodiac is fairly unique, a Palm handheld computer crossed with a gaming console. There are two Zodiac models, the Zodiac 1 and Zodiac 2, and all that separates them are their storage capacities (32MB and 128MB, respectively) and their colour (grey and black). The Zodiac has a 3.8in, 480 x 320 16-bit color transflective LCD. The screen is surrounded by an anodized aluminum shell that gives the Zodiac a solid, robust feel. On either side of the screen are stereo speakers and the controls: a console-style analog joystick, and on/off and Home buttons on the left-hand side, and a circular cluster of four game buttons on the other.

The above is adapted from a review in the Register

According to this PC Magazine review from June 2004 "The Zodiac 1 is not a perfect fit for the traditional business PDA user. But for anyone else who wants to play games and stay organized, the Zodiac is an entertaining device worth checking out".

Unfortunately Tapwave, the company which made the Zodiacs, is no longer around. There is still a rather active support community, Games - mostly freeware or Open Source - are still being made available for the Zodiac, and the Zodiac 2 version with accessories regularly sells for over 300 US dollars on eBay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


A few months back I thought I was quite happy using the Mozilla Suite instead of Firefox.
Now I've realized that somehow I've switched to mainly using Firefox. It must have been when I reached the stage of customizing Firefox with just the right set of Extensions. One of the other factors was when the security updates were coming thick and fast. Firefox would advise me of an update whereas the Mozilla Suite wouldn't. Also keeping both browsers up to date on four machines, with two of them having more than one flavor of Windows was just getting too much.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Yet another handheld!

Yes, another Palm handheld. This was a deal I just could not pass up on eBay. I'd always wanted a Tapwave Zodiac. Instead of the more expensive Tapwave Zodiac 2 I got the Tapwave Zodiac 1. The only difference is the color and that the Zodiac 2 has more RAM, almost 100MB more.
The Tapwave Zodiac 1 handheld - it calls itself a "console" - has a different default launcher from standard Palm launcher. Its slightly easier to understand than Sony's Jogdial driven one on the Sony NX60, but you don't have the option of switching to the default Palm launcher. As well as being a Palm computer the Zodiac has a dedicated graphics card and features gaming console type controls.
If I hadn't played Ridge Racer on the Sony PSP before playing Stunt Car Extreme on the Tapwave Zodiac I might have been more impressed. Then again this game comes free with the Tapwave Zodiac.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Handheld of a different sort

Okay, so now I got me a Sony PSP (PlayStation Portable).
The morning after I got it I went through buyers remorse. Since I bought it on eBay I couldn't return it. What the heck am I doing with this gaming device (the value pack didn't come with any games, just demos)? It can play music sure, but I got 2 other devices which do that too. As for movies - a movie is something I want to sit and enjoy watching with someone.
Anyway, I also got the "Ridge Racer" game - also on eBay and for an extremely good price, and it arrived today. After 5 minutes with that game I don't feel so bad. The gaming experience was incredible - graphics, sound, speed.
Even though I'm not really a gamer (the last PC game I bought and played was "Redneck Rampage" - I enjoyed it more than Duke Nukem 3D), and I don't fit into the target demographic for the Sony PSP, I'm hooked.
So what if it can't sync with my contacts or appointments..

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Too many To Dos

Last night I spent some time on PalmGear looking for enhanced ToDo apps. I started to have so many ToDos that sometimes one of them slips through the cracks. There are a number of them out there. Not to long ago I discovered that as part of its HandSpring heritage, the Treo 600 has an enhanced DateBook - called Calendar, which can be configured to show certain Tasks (ToDos) and has a number of additional features like appointment templates. Apparently this is a stripped down version of Pimilco's DateBk3. Anyway, I was looking for an enhanced ToDo List, not an advanced DateBook. There are numerous ones out there - from the promisingly named ToDo Plus to "CanDo". Then there are the hierarchical information managers like Bonsai (expensive, but from Natara who make the excellent DayNotez), BrainForest (recently acquired by DataViz?) and ShadowPlan (which, according to user reviews appears to be a powerful product with a steep learning curve). I downloaded two freeware hierarchical data managers to try out - IdeaPad and HandOutline.
Also found an updated version of the freeware "HotDate", which now has a red icon instead of the mono-looking black icon. I need to read up on it as it has some features which may be useful.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Treo unexpected use!

The lights (*electricity) went off and my Treo was close at hand (with the battery level at 70%).
I turned the brighness up and what a great flashlight (*torch) it made!

(*English English as opposed to American English)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

More I use it the better it gets...

Innuendos aside (after all, this is a technology blog, not a sex blog), I'm referring to peditPro [the capitalization being the authors].
As well as excellent support - when I had a problem while I was still evaluating the trial version the author of the program responded promptly - I'm continually pleasantly surprised by the powerful features of this text editor. Actually it's almost a disservice to call it a text editor. I've just discovered that I can change the case of a word or selected text - a function that I would normally have to fire up Microsoft Word to perform on a PC Desktop.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Palm and Microsoft, together?

According to My Way News, Palm has teamed with Microsoft to create a Windows-based version of the Treo smart phone.
Aaargh, no it can't be, it's unnatural!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Opera Browser now totally free

According to My Way News, the Opera Browser is now free, with no advertisements.
This free version of Opera can either be downloaded from or

Monday, September 12, 2005

Contrast in Sizes

The Abacus PDA Watch is a contrast in sizes. It is a large watch (although not as large as I'd feared), but often the tiny text on the 0.9 x 0.9 inches (24 x 24 mm) grayscale screen is almost impossible to read. You also need ample lighting to read the screen as in dim lighting the screen becomes unreadable. The backlight sometimes just seems to make it worse. This is going to limit the programs I can (usefully) run on it. I already have my Address Book loaded - beamed from the Treo - that should be useful. The multiple watch faces are great - what do I feel like today: Analog, Digital or wacky?

Friday, September 09, 2005

Wait, and wait some more

I finally received the Abacus Wrist PDA. It needs to be charged for 4-6 hours before use according to the manual.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Palm software bargains

I have been evaluating pedit32 - one of Paul Nevai's excellent Palm programs. Pedit32 is a Palm Memo and doc editor - among its numerous features it can export and import to and from the MemoPad and Palm doc files. It stores 32KB memos in its own database file. I quickly got used to features like "Restore Memo" - the standard Palm undo feature is very limited, and if you mess up a memo by overwriting some information you didn't mean to, the only way to get it back is with a restore from a backup. Anyway, prior to buying it I thought I'd have a look at peditPro, the flagship of the pedit family. It combines pedit04 with pedit32.
Pedit04 puts powerful editing features on top of the standard Palm MemoPad. Of course peditPro is quite pricey - selling for $32 at, (excluding a 10% discount valid until the end of September).
I found a bargain elsewhere though. Like a small percentage of Palm software, you pay less if you buy pedit directly from the developers site. What I didn't notice at first was that if you buy pedit32 through PayPal, you get a free registered version of peditPro. This said "Buy Me!".

Out of interest, (and take a substantial cut for each application sold (with a minimum of several dollars). In comparison, PayPal or other payment processing methods only charge a fraction of this. Don't get me wrong, I've bought a lot of software through PalmGear - they have a wide selection. I'd also use them to sell any Palm software I may write. On the other hand, if I can get software cheaper directly from the developer, why not? This doesn't just apply to small developers like Paul Computing, but also to software companies like TealPoint. With a large selection of programs (just check out their TealPoint's site), I'd also rather deal directly with them. Actually I can't think of any other developers who sell directly, other than upgrades: SplashData and the developer of ZLauncher, zzTechs.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Abacus for me!

Well, I finally caved in and bought the Abacus Wrist PDA on special - even though I'd just read that Fossil had discontinued them.
Now I'm waiting for it to arrive - hopefully it's not Ginormous (gigantic & enormous).
What sold me was this user review of the watch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Up, up and down...

On a flight to Los Angeles recently, the Linux-based onboard entertainment system just wouldn't work after a number of reboots. Maybe they should have used Windows!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

CASL is now freeware

The latest version of first Palm programming language I used to write Bible Promises, CASL, has been released as freeware.
After Bible Promises version 1.5, I switched to PDA Toolbox Professional, and haven't looked back.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Free Edit takes space

I have been tempted to delete SiEd off my Treo since I realized that it's taking 152 KB of valuable memory. I have a number of freeware Palm Doc Editors loaded, like Zdocj - which is also Open Source and only takes 51 KB of memory. Unlike SiEd, Zdocj can edit compressed Palm doc files. However, SiEd has a macro feature. Oh well - I'll compromise and run SiEd off the Memory Card. Good old PowerRun!

Friday, July 29, 2005

So Long, Zodiac

From My Way News:
"Zodiac Handheld Game Device Is Halted"
This really is a pity..

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A Palm on my wrist?

I recently received a special offer to buy the Fossil Abacus Wrist PDA.
After many delays, Fossil had finally brought out a Wrist PDA with decent specs several months back (see It has 8MB RAM and a 66MHz processor - which is plenty fast for the Palm OS version it runs: 4.1 This Palm OS version is a bit outdated but will run most Palm programs.
The thought of a Palm on my wrist was quite tempting initially, until I thought about the practicality. Firstly, due to circumstances I don't wear a wristwatch often - I carry a pager and a cellphone which tell me the time, plus at work I sit in front of a computer which also tells me the time - so I've totally got out of the habit of wearing a wristwatch. Then
I'm squinting enough with the small screen of the Treo, so the 0.9 x 0.9 inches (24 x 24 mm) screen of the Fossil Wrist PDA would be even worse. Grayscale is supposed to be easier to read, but that's pushing it. Oh well...

Friday, July 15, 2005

No Calls?

One thing which took getting used to was the Palm computer plus Cellphone thing. Although they are well integrated, it gave my security software (TealLock) a headache. I had to update to the latest version of TealLock, and then follow their instructions in the manual. Basically they advise just to lock the Palm handheld computer part with TealLock and lock the Phone part separately. The main reason for this is that no calls will come through if the phone is locked with TealLock.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Treo 600, 22 days later...

One of the first things that I noticed when I started using the Treo was how well the keyboard has been integrated into the device. Unlike the Sony NX60 where you could type on the keyboard but had to reach for the stylus for most dialog boxes, you can do almost everything using the keyboard and the 5-way navigation button. I say "almost everything" because you can't select text without a stylus unless you have a third party utility like FieldPlus.
In fact there is no graffiti by default, although you can use onscreen graffiti with the help of third party apps like TealScript or the freeware Graffiti Anywhere. I haven't done this yet as there has been no need.
As for the 160x160 screen resolution, it was a pain getting a compatible Theme for ZLauncher, but otherwise I only notice it when I look at the high resolution screen of the Tungsten E.

Friday, July 01, 2005

So why the Treo?

A couple of reasons:
1. Built-In keyboard/thumbboard - after using a Palm with a keyboard for over two years, going back to just using Graffiti (especially Graffiti 2) as input just wouldn't cut it. That tipped the scales between the Treo 600 and the (otherwise much better equipped) Tungsten T3
2. Size. It wasn't until I actually held a Treo in my hands that I realized just how small it is.
3. Merging of handheld computer and cellphone - just carrying one device beats carrying two.

And of course the Treo 600 has 24MB RAM free, as opposed to 11MB on the Sony NX60

Saturday, June 25, 2005

What I finally got

So what did I finally get?
I’ve been so busy playing with it, and a picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say):

Friday, June 17, 2005

Temptation, aaargh!

I'm still tempted by the Tapwave Zodiac 2 for $299.
I've just got to remind myself that can get the Palm Tungsten T5 for not much more ($349 after mail-in rebate ending July 16 & price includes free Wi-Fi card, plus another $50 Palm Exchange rebate) - deeper discounts are available elsewhere - $302 on PriceGrabber), which has double the RAM (256MB RAM) & processor speed (416MHz) although it also doesn't have a voice recorder (like the Tapwave Zodiac but unlike the Tungsten T3 which does). The T5 also comes with a more appropriate software bundle for me, including Docs To Go 7 Pro.
As I think about it logically, I'd even prefer the Tungsten T3 to the T5.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Sidetracked by a special at CompUSA for a Tapwave Zodiac 2 for $299. This is a PalmOS based gaming device with 128MB RAM, Bluetooth & 2 SD slots (yes, two - could use one for Wi-Fi card & the other for extra memory) , 320x480 screen with portrait and landscape mode.
But it doesn't have a keyboard
It also doesn't have a voice recorder.
But after actually looking at it I realized I had forgotten one of the main reasons for new handheld - smaller size. The Tapwave Zodiac is at least as big as the Sony Clie NX60, although it is not a clamshell, and weighs less.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Treo 600 instead of Tungsten T3?

Thinking of a Treo 600 instead of Tungsten T3:

- The Tungsten T3 is nice but pricey, sort of a major upgrade from the NX60, but doesn't have a keyboard - and that is a major concern. After 2 years of using the NX60, with a short break for a couple of months while I used the works Tungsten E primarily (which ended when I had battery problems with Tungsten E along with losing some Blog and Journal entries between the 2 PDAs), my Graffiti writing skills have diminished and I got used to "ThumbBoard" type data entry on the NX60. To spend around $300 on the excellent T3 but then find inputting my blog entries using Graffiti slow and tedious would be a real downer
- The chance to try a smartphone (PDA/phone combo), something I've really wanted to do. The Treo 650 with its 16-bit (65K colors) 320x320screen & faster processor, as well as (presumably) updated PIM Apps is tempting, but at $449 its a bit steep (and well over $300), and I'd be tied to Cingular for 2 years - whereas if I don't like the Treo 600 I can just sell it Although the Treo 600 has a smaller and lower resolution (160x160) screen than I'm used to, the extra $150 plus a 2-year contract for a (320x320) hi-res screen (and faster processor) doesn't seem worth it. The idea is to see if the smartphone (PDA/phone combo) is as useful as reported, for a reasonable price.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A budget!

A special day is coming up and after negotiation with my family, I have a budget for $300 . Now I need to decide between Tungsten T3 or Treo 600. My earlier research had found an unlocked GSM Treo 600 for less than $300, so I had added it to my short list.

Some additional research about the Treo 600 raises these questions:
1. Is screen 65K/16-bit color - No it is 12-bit CSTN (less than 4000 colors) - hopefully this will only be noticeable with graphics.
2. Can Treo 600 be turned on without turning on Cellphone part (for use on planes) - yes, according to user manual
3. PowerRun-compatible? Must check
4. JackFlash-compatible? (not essential)
5. TextPlus-compatible?
6. Onscreen Graffiti? (not that important)
7. Keyboard backlight? - yes
8. MP3 playback capability? - possibly

Monday, June 13, 2005


Frustrated, partially due to the hot weather, but mostly due to my PDA hunt - not seeming to find the bargain I was looking for. This is mostly due to changing expectations (looking at Tungsten T3 or Treo 600 instead of Tungsten T2). My ideal Palm handheld is not out there - or at least it is not out there for a "lower 100s" price - the Tungsten T3 is close & only lacks a keyboard, which I just may be able to do without (or not?) The Treo 600 has a keyboard and more memory than the NX60, but its screen resolution is much lower - could I really go from 480x320 screen down to 160x160? (even with gaining a combo PDA/cellphone). The Treo 650, although with a 320x320 screen, has less memory available than the 600, and for $100 to $150 extra adds Bluetooth & some input/interface enhancements - I already have a cellphone with Bluetooth - and have never used the Bluetooth, nor the email features. As for the Tungsten C which has a keyboard & lots of memory, it is on the bulky side. Admittedly the Tungsten C's keyboard is a lot more intelligent than the Sony NX60's - it was designed so that everything could be done from the keyboard. On the NX60 whenever there is a dialog box you have to reach for the stylus. There are some freeware apps (like OKey) which try to help but they only go so far. But would I really use the Wi-Fi? - it is quite aggravating trying to browse the Internet on the Tungsten C's browser.- It is more expensive than the Tungsten T3 , which has the plus of enhanced built-in apps.

So what happened to my initial idea to buy a used Tungsten T2? - I can still do so for around $120, or less than $100 for those rare ones - the problem is that apart from an increase in memory it is more of a step down than anything else - the CPU is slower, and it came out just a month after the NX60. The only real advantage is that it is a (real) Palm, and uses the faster SecureDigital Cards.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Low Budget, No Budget

While I've been thinking about what I want, I've been doing some "research" on eBay for prices.
It seems like Tungsten T2's sell for around $110+ used or $160 refurbished, and Tungsten T3's for about $230 to $300 used.
Then there are some Tungsten T3's which only come with a charger and no software CDs, and sell for $160 plus - I view those suspiciously.

For an extra $120 to $200 (used), the Tungsten T3 has double the memory of the T2, more than double the CPU speed (400MHz vs 144 MHz), 320x480 Screen with portrait or landscape mode and Virtual Graffiti (vs 320x320 Screen), updated PIM Apps, (and a newer version of Documents To Go than the Tungsten T2's. Since I've got used to the convenience of Virtual Graffiti on the Sony NX60, the Tungsten T3 is appealing.
Tungsten T3's seem to be in high demand though, as there don't seem to be many refurbished models around - on places like Even the PalmOne Outlet store doesn't have any "Open Box" specials for the Tungsten T3. When I first started my search, the Tungsten T3 was available at the PalmOne online store for $349, now it's nowhere to be seen.

Zire 72's are going for between $179 to over $200 on eBay. Even though they have acceptable available memory, I just seem to prefer the styling of the Tungsten T2/T3's to the Zire 72.

As I'm working a "non-budget" of less than $100, my options are severely limited. I've seen the occasional Tungsten T2 for less than $100, but usually it was "blemished" in some way. But the hunt continues...

Friday, June 10, 2005

Keyboard or Stereo, No?

In my hunt for a new PDA, I had a built-in keyboard (or thumbboard) as a "nice to have". This was because very few Palms have one. At the moment the only one on my 'possible replacements' list with a keyboard was the Tungsten C.

When PalmOne released the Tungsten C, they decided that since it was a business handheld computer, the audio jack on the Tungsten C would be mono, not stereo (see the review here and the Mobile Tech Review here).
I don't listen to music on my Sony NX60 that often, but when I do I want to listen in stereo.

This is making my choice difficult - a PDA with keyboard (Tungsten C) or one with stereo audio output (others)...

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Possible Replacements

I found some possible replacements my Sony Clie NX60:
Either the PalmOne Tungsten T2,T3 or C or the Zire 72.
All of these are smaller and lighter than the Sony Clie NX60.
The Zire 72 has only 24MB of RAM, which puts it at the bottom of the list, whereas the Tungsten T2 has 29.5MB, the Tungsten C 51Mb and the Tungsten T3 52MB. Here I'm referring to actual free RAM, which is sometimes significantly smaller than the RAM advertised for the handheld. My Sony NX60 was a prime example of this. On the box it says 16MB RAM, but actually only 11MB of RAM is available for programs. In reviews like the review of the Tungsten T2, the reviewer says "The Tungsten T2 comes with ...32MB of SDRAM, 29.7MB of which are available".
The actual available memory versus specified memory is mucho important!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The hunt begins...

Replacing my Sony Clie NX60 handheld computer is long overdue. It avoided being replaced last year when I got a Tungsten E from work. I used the Tungsten E for a few months, enjoying the freedom of having 28MB of RAM instead of just 11MB. Then I went back to the NX60 after a mishap with data I was sharing between the 2 PDAs.

The Tungsten E's main advantage over the Clie NX60 is its portability - I know that sounds strange for a handheld computer, but the NX60 is more than an inch longer than the Tungsten E and weighs 8 ounces. In its protective case it doesn't fit in anything smaller than a coat pocket. I also was running into memory constraints, even using JackFlash and PowerRun to save RAM.

Quick photo from my Cellphone camera of the two PDAs together (Tungsten E on the left and Sony Clie NX60 on the right):

and with the NX60 open:

I know the pictures are a bit blurred, but they are just to give an indication of the actual difference is size. The NX60 can also be used with the screen twisted around to cover the keyboard, but then the Hard Buttons (Datebook, Memo etc) are not available.

I drew up requirements for the new PDA:
1. Must be lighter and smaller
2. More memory - at least as much as Tungsten E
3. Preferably not another Sony (SD cards seem to be a lot faster than Memory Sticks)

Nice to have:
1. Keyboard
2. MP3 playback capability

Monday, June 06, 2005

Why there wasn't a Tungsten T4

According to a review on, the reason why there wasn't a Palm Tungsten T4, it's for the same reason you seldom see product numbers -- or hotel room floors in Las Vegas -- with the number 13. In much of Asia, the number four is considered bad luck of the worst kind. Turns out the word for four sounds a lot like the word for "dying" or "death." It's pervasive enough that an urban myth persists despite contrary medical evidence that there are more heart attacks at work on the fourth, fourteenth, and twenty-fourth of the month, so some stay home on those days. Thus it's more common to see major product numbers skip from three to five. Canon, the camera company, took their PowerShot G3 straight on to G5 for the same reason, and Palm, Inc. itself skipped the Palm IV in favor of the Palm V.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Hello LifeDrive, goodbye T3

PalmOne's LifeDrive mobile manager has officially been released. Noticeably missing from the Tungsten Series section of the PalmOne online store is the Tungsten T3 - I would have thought that the LifeDrive would have replaced the Tungsten C, especially with WI-Fi support.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Firefox bug fixed

Mozilla has released Firefox version 1.04, which fixes the "Code execution via javascript" bug. Pretty quick fixing!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Firefox bug

Mozilla recommends turning Java off in Firefox until a patch is released for this Zero-Day Bug, according to eWeek.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Yahoo! Mail up to 1GB

Online storage space is increasing in leaps and bounds. I've just noticed that my Yahoo! Mail account is up to 1GB of space. Okay, that's less of an incentive to clear out my Bulk Mail folder....

Thursday, April 28, 2005

CNET Admits PDA not Dead!

CNET finally admitted that "The PDA is not dead" in their On-the-Go Weekly newsletter of April 14, 2005 (okay, I know this is old news, but I only got to that piece of email now)

Monday, April 25, 2005

Wireless phone for my land line

Okay, so it's a cordless phone for my land line, not a wireless phone ;)

I've been looking for the ideal cordless phone. This has really turned out to be a challenge.

My requirements were simple:
- It must have an answering machine
- must support multiple handsets
- should not interfere with my home wireless network.

The solution to last point would appear to be a no-brainer - just get a 5.8Ghz phone, since wireless networks run at 2.4Ghz - right? Well, an number of so-called 5.8Ghz phones also run at 2.4GHz. To quote an excerpt from the owner's manual for the AT&T E5865 5.8 GHz Cordless Speakerphone/Answering System:

"RF Frequency Band (Handset to Base) - 2400 MHz ? 2483.5 MHz
RF Frequency Band (Base to Handset) - 5725 MHz ? 5850 MHz"

Um, why do I see 2.4GHz there? I must confess that I would not have picked this up if it wasn't for the excellent Consumer Reports magazine and website.
To quote from Consumer Reports "Cordless phones: Sound distinctions" dated October 2004:
"Some phones are dual-band, which means they transmit between base and handset in one band and receive in another. You can't switch the frequencies. One of those bands might cause an interference problem"

One of the true 5.8GHz phones I came across was the Uniden TRU 8885-2. The only problem with this combo is that it does not have a battery backup. A newer model, the Uniden CLX485, does have battery backup, but is a lot more expensive, and - as yet - unproven.

Cordless phones also seem to be getting closer to cellphones with features like:
- downloadable ringtones
- picture caller id (in color!)
- synchronize phonebook (yes, they have phonebooks!) with Outlook
- handset-to-handset talk
- lighted keypad
- multilingual menus

Other resources which proved useful during my research were:

CNET Product Reviews and the websites of stores like Circuit City, both of which have customer reviews. Manufacturer websites like AT&T and Panasonic are wonderful places where you can download owner's manuals.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Couldn't resist...

Okay, so I wasn't going to review Desktop Search engines, but since I'm trying another one I'll give my views on it...
After uninstalling the Yahoo Desktop beta in disgust, I looked around at the other ones out there. I decided to try Copernic Desktop Search, even though it doesn't index ZIP files. Version 1.5 had just come out of beta, so I installed that one. The machine that I intended to use it on wasn't a fast one (a 500MHz AMD K6), so I was interested to see what it would do. For comparison, I also tried it on a 1.7GHz Pentium 4. Of course the indexing went much faster on the newer machine.
Copernic Desktop Search indexs in the background, just like it's competitors. There are settings to make it pause when you are using the machine and resume when the machine is idle (default is 30 seconds). There are also settings for when to scan folders, contacts, emails, etc. It is easy to pause the indexing, or to see the indexing status.

I must say that I'm impressed with the search engine's user interface. It clean and well thought out. Under the Search box are dropdowns to refine search by file type, size, date and even folder. Okay, so even Windows 2000 and XP have this. It's the options that Copernic gives you for building the search index which are so powerful. There are options to include or exclude folders and file types from the index: C:\Program Files was excluded by default - which makes sense - but you can remove this exclusion. You can add folders to be searched for documents, pictures or music. In the advanced options is where it really gets fun - you can add new file types to index (as text).

The search results features a preview pane, something that Google Desktop Search is missing.

Copernic Desktop Search is staying on my machines (for the moment anyway).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tungsten E - the sequel

PalmOne has just released the Palm Tungsten E2
Here is the PC Magazine review

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So long YDS

Well, after running Yahoo Desktop Search on my new machine for almost a week, I decided to install the latest beta of Yahoo Desktop Search. The support forum for YDS has no search facility (it makes the Yahoo newsgroups look good) so I emailed support to find out if I should uninstall the previous beta first.
No reply, what a surprise!
So I installed the new beta over the old one. It asked for my Yahoo signon so it could index my Yahoo IMs - I don't have any, but the program insisted it wanted a Yahoo userid and password. So I gave it but blocked YDS from connecting to the internet with Norton Firewall when it tried. It came back with an "Invalid userid or password" type message and then it began rebuilding the search index. This was a marathon process - much longer than the first one. When the re-building was finally over I started up the Desktop Search and discovered that they had tweaked the interface for a larger search results pane, so a button had to pressed to show the "Refine Results" section.
All of this aggravated me so much I uninstalled Yahoo Desktop Search completely. Maybe I'll try it again when it's out of beta...

Monday, April 04, 2005

Naked Launch

I decided to uninstall ZLauncher and use the Default Palm Launcher on my Sony NX60.
The default (Standard View) Launcher screen definitely looks naked after ZLauncher.
I also really miss ZLauncher's File Manager.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Google Mail 2Gb!

According to
My Way News: "Google Doubles E-Mail Space"

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Well reviewed

With all these reviews of Desktop Search utilities in PC Magazine and Blogs, I've almost been tempted to join in the fun and trying them all and reviewing them. But it's been done. Instead, I'm using the Yahoo! Desktop Search Beta, simply because it's based on a highly recommended commercial product, and can search within ZIP files.
Of course, that doesn't mean that I haven't already downloaded the Copernic Desktop Search for testing on my other machine...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Mozilla Updates

It seemed that I just blinked and there were updates to the Mozilla products:

Firefox 1.02 with several security fixes.

Thunderbird 1.0.2 mail client

The Mozilla Suite version 1.7.6

I must have been sleeping, because I've only just heard that the Mozilla Foundation plans to stop further development of the Mozilla Suite, according to an article in PCWorld, as well as this mozillaZine posting.
Also, the official "Transition Plan" from Mozilla.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

1.5 million TEs

That's 1.5 million Palm Tungsten Es.
Among all the verbiage of PalmOne's Financial results is the interesting point that 1.5 million units of the Tungsten E handheld computer have been sold in the 14 months it's been on the market and it has consistently been the best-selling handheld in the United States since its introduction.

Friday, March 18, 2005


Yesterday I mentioned the Facer and Today launchers without giving the links
Facer Launcher can be found at Pocket Craft.
Today can be found at FreewarePalm (beware - popups)
Of course that's the freeware Today, not to be confused with the shareware TodayPLUS, which is at this Flashy website

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Shareware Launchers

For the uninitiated, the idea of a replacment Application Launcher may seem strange, but in the Palm world a good Launcher program can really improve the user interface.
LaunchPlug has some good tips about Launchers, although it is a bit outdated - most of the products it mentions now support PalmOS 5.x.

I've used ZLauncher for quite some time, I initially bought it for the sheer utility - it was about the same price as PowerRUN at that stage (PowerRUN enhances launching programs from a memory card, saving precious RAM on a handheld), and as well as doing what PowerRUN does ZLauncher has a decent File Manager and numerous other features. I can't say that I'm really into Background pictures and customized icons on my Sony handheld, but if I wanted to ZLauncher would allow me to go to town.

Yesterday I tried MegaLauncher 5.5 from Megasoft 2000, just out of curiosity, and I was very impressed, It has an intuitive interface, and I really liked the way the To Do and DateBook items can be displayed. Unfortunately it seems that it uses a lot more RAM than ZLauncher, which is really a pity.

The latest generation of Launchers give the PalmOS a "Windows" interface, like Hi-Launcher (check out their awfully colorful website here) and Win Launcher

Others, like Facer, and Today, emulate the Today screen of PocketPCs

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Free Palm software

I tried out some other freeware Palm programs:

DES Journal
According to the program documentation:
"DES Journal is a small PalmOS application that is designed to aid in keeping a journal".
The program stores its journal data in the Datebook, which is a fairly good idea for getting data to the desktop. Other than that, there's not much else to it. I prefer eDiary though, which allows the Journal to be protected with a password.
Of course, IMHO, the best Journal/Diary type program out there is DayNotez. It's not free, but is incredibly versatile.

Their description:
"Maximus is a Palm supplement - personal organizer for home and business use. The wide choice of icons, colors, groups, etc. presents only few of the features that will help you better organize and visualize your daily activities."
Hard to nail this one down. It has a very pretty interface, but it seems awfully difficult to enter anything into the program. It stayed on my handheld for a while (because, it's so pretty and colorful) before I finally deleted it.

Pretty Maximus

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Well done

I've just been trying out a freeware Launcher for the Palm called iSpin. If for some reason you want your Palm to look like Windows XP, iSpin will do it.
Unfortunately I installed some other freeware programs just afterward, one of which is clashed with iSpin and caused my handheld to crash (Fatal Reset - Soft Reset). Kudos to the developer(s) of iSpin though, as the program detects that it crashed last time it was run and asks if you want to continue. Of course if you say yes it crashes again, but if you say no you get out of what could be a nasty loop-de-loop situation.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Free Clipper

After looking at The Basic to C Translator (BCX) the other day, I was wondering about Harbour - which I had last seen sometime ago.
Harbour is a free software compiler for the xBase superset language often referred to as Clipper (the language that is implemented by the compiler CA-Clipper). Clipper is a one of the myriad of "4GL" (Fourth Generation Language) xBase compilers that grew out of the now defunct Ashton-Tate's dBase III and dBase III plus. Ashton-Tate was bought by Borland in 1990 or 1991 (depending on which source you look at)

Clipper was also the second programming language I was trained to use after mainframe COBOL (Unfortunately I never got to really use it, but that's a different story).
Clipper's main failing was that there was never a Windows version. Richey's Delphi Box has a quote that "Clipper would be the greatest dBASE-Compiler (if it were Win-able..)"
Instead of "Clipper for Windows", CA in all it's wisdom re-designed the language from scratch, calling it "Visual Objects". Now this was a great idea in theory, because with this powerful new Windows Development tool you could do OOP (Object-Orientated Programming). If fact, if I remember correctly, you had to do Object-Orientated Design as well. This was great, but unfortunately Clipper for Windows this wasn't. All DOS-based Clipper programs had to be completely re-written to run on
Windows. This was no good. Now it appears that CA has dumped Visual Objects

Unlike Clipper, Harbour compiles and run on MS-DOS, MS-Windows, OS/2, GNU/Linux and FreeBSD. There is a variant of Harbour called xHarbour (extended Harbour). To confuse things, although xHarbour is an Open Source project, there is also a commercial version of Harbour, called xHarbour Builder.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Can't beat the price

I was looking at some free/freeware programming language compilers on freeprogrammingresources, and came across XBasic which I'd tried but given up on - even though it's a multi-platform Basic.
XBLite, which only runs on Windows looks a bit more promising, but I haven't tried it yet.

One I have tried is BCX, the Freeware Basic to C Translator. I wrote a utility for myself in BCX (you write in Basic, and then in one step the code is translated into C and compiled with a C compiler). At that stage I was too spoiled by Visual Basic's visual design environment, and got frustrated when I needed to create a user interface. So I rewrote the utility in Delphi 3 in less than half the time. (Delphi is similar to Visual Basic except for the language, which is Object Pascal).

The original BCX is available here, and there is a newer "GPL'ed" version on SourceForge, as well as the BCX DevSuite Pro which includes a C compiler and some Form designers.

Of course BCX is free, and Delphi isn't.

Monday, February 28, 2005

DVD Burned

As I'd mentioned in February (see "Backwards and forwards in tech" and "Yer lyin'" here), the combination CD/DVD writer on my main PC Desktop machine was playing up. I could write to CDs, but re-writable CDs and DVDs gave me weird burn errors.
There were three possible reasons for this.
The first being a hardware problem on the CD/DVD writer, especially since the machine was no longer under warranty.
The second, and one I initially thought was more likely, was a conflict in drivers.
I had a problem if that was the case - I'd lost my original Restore CDs, so I had to order them from support (for $20!).
That was well and good, but I really don't want to restore my PC to it's original out of the box state, and then re-install all the software. I could apparently restore the original OS to another partition - but that wasn't foolproof. I needed a backup first...Catch 22.

Then I tested writing to a DVD from a clean Windows 2000 partition with Nero, and it failed. This was on media recommended by the DVD drive manufacturer (up until now I didn't realize there was such a thing as recommended media lists). That meant one of two things - the hardware was failing, or the firmware needed updating. I looked for firmware upgrades, but there weren't any official ones. For a while I limped along with a DVD writer which sometimes could write CDs.

Then I began thinking of replacing the DVD writer. An Internal one would be cheaper, but would only work on the machine I installed it into. Why not an external DVD writer, which could work with both my desktop and Notebook. Why Not!

After looking at the Mad Dog MegaSTOR 7-in-1 8X Dual Layer DVD Writer (which was on special at CompUSA for $99, but was a NEC drive like my current one and had a so-so review in, the Lite-On SOHW-1633SX External Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer, and then the Plextor PX-708UF External Multi Format DVD Burner. Based on the review of the Plextor PX-708UF, I bought the I bought the Plextor External Dual-Layer DVD Burner:

Plextor PX-716UF DVD±RW DL Writer

Friday, February 25, 2005


Hotmail Glitch Snarls Pay Service according to My Way News.
My account still appears to be working...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Hello Norton

Okay, I'm only one day into using the Norton Internet Security Suite 2005, but so far it is miles better than McAfee. Configuring Anti-Spam for Outlook was a breeze compared to McAfee. In McAfee I had to set the localhost in the Email client - Norton just asked "Do you want to configure this email client?", and then went and did it.

Okay, maybe I'm biased, but this is despite a bad experience with Norton Internet Security 2003. After being on my PC for a for months, MS ActiveSync suddenly stopped working. When I uninstalled NIS 2003, it worked again. I only decided to try Norton again after reading that Symantec have changed the way their firewall rules are created since the 2003 version. I've also had the Norton Personal Firewall 2004 running on my old Desktop PC for several months without any problems.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Bye bye McAfee

My McAfee Internet Security update subscription only expires in 2 days time, but I just couldn't wait, so I un-installed it and installed Norton Internet Security Suite 2005 about half an hour ago.
NIS only needed one reboot during the updates!


I've mentioned this before, but it bears mentioning again:

StumbleUpon is a great way to surf the Web.

It's main component is a downloadable toolbar which works with most Browsers (Mozilla, Firefox, Netscape and even Internet Explorer) and on a number of Operating Systems.
Basically, once you've downloaded and installed the toolbar, you choose topics which you are interested in (the more the better).
Then you just click the "Stumble" button on your browser to begin channel surfing - and give a "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" to the websites you like or dislike, and surf on.

It's really great fun.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Just re-install

Hopefully this is the last stupid update message from the McAfee Internet Security suite I'll see (like I'm really going to re-install McAfee VirusScan):

On Monday I'm planning to uninstall it and install Norton Internet Security 2005.

Given Up

Okay, that's it. The non-booting Windows 2000 Partition on my Desktop computer just wasn't responding to any TLC. I tried editing the boot.ini file, copying a new Ntoskrnl.exe, but to no avail. I've wasted enough time on it, and since all I had on that partition were programs, I have deleted it with Partition Magic.

Now I just have to re-install a few dozen programs...

Friday, February 18, 2005

IE 7 to beat Firefox?

The Buzz Report: "IE 7: so much for Firefox"
I don't think so!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Online bookmarks

They're not new, but this one has an interesting name Spurl
- rhymes with hurl but has some really cool features AND works with Opera, Mozilla/Firefox, Netscape and Safari across Windows, Linux and MacOS.

Oh, and Internet Explorer as well.

(until the next post, that is).

Yer lyin'

It's a writable multisession CD you stupid piece of software!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Tagging for Teens

RFID (radio frequency identification) badges for students at a Californian school cause an uproar - see My Way News

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Backwards and forwards in tech

Yesterday I had more CD burner woes - I could not continue writing to a multisession CDR started with Nero 6.6 Ultra Edition.
A few days ago I could do this with a CDR started with Nero 6.3 Ultra Edition. No amount of rebooting would help Nero recognize the CD as a multisession CDR

Now today, it worked!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Technology gets me down

Even a technophile can get dumped on by technology.
The mangled Windows 2000 partition on my eMachines Desktop is still mangled after almost 3 weeks (okay, I was on vaction for one of those weeks).
Now the combination CD/DVD writer on the aforementioned Desktop machine has been playing up. I can write to CDs, but re-writeable CDs and DVDs gives me weird burn errors.
Now that's something else that needs to be fixed...

Friday, January 28, 2005

Dumb Palm flies smarter

On a recent flight to Miami while I was blogging (off-line of course) into my Sony NX60, it hit me. If I had the current handheld of my dreams, the Palm Treo 650, I wouldn't be able to use it during the flight, at least with the current FAA regulations. That is of course because the Treo 650 is also a cellphone. That's something to keep in mind when buying a Palm Smartphone...

Friday, January 21, 2005

So long DSL...

Well, I really needed to get online this evening to take care of some last-minute finances before heading off on vacation. Of course when I needed it most, the DSL service was not working. I had reset the modem, rebooted the computer, switched the modem off for 45 seconds, but it still wasn't working. This was the last straw. I had been putting up with the speed getting slower and slower until it was only double or triple dial-up speed. Today I had planned to cancel Cable Internet service and switch to DSL. Instead I hooked up my main Desktop PC and was online in a reboot, speed somewhere above 3500 Kbps - yesterday DSL was down to less than 200 Kbps. Thank the Lord still I was still within the 30-day trial period, so I phoned them up to cancel. Understandably they wanted to dissuade me - could they transfer me to tech support? No, I was finding it difficult to be civil, I wanted to cancel. Apparently un-installing and re-installing the software would solve my problem. I was adamant and canceled the DSL service. It was quite a relief actually. After the relatively trouble-free cable internet service with fairly constant line speed, DSL just didn't cut it.
The free MSN Premium (soon to be switched to Yahoo Premium) and wireless access in New York City were non-essential perks.

Well, I've tried DSL, but the old adage seems to apply: "You get what you pay for".

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A cheap Mac

According to ExtremeTech, in an article "The Mac Mini: Less Than You Think" the Mac Mini is not a cheap Macintosh. The premium on the prices of Apple Macs is for the cool factor, I guess. As for the iPod, that's ultra-cool.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Partitions Mangled

I feel so bright. Not satisfied with having my eMachines Desktop dual-booting between Windows XP and Windows 2000 Professional, I decided to add an extra instance of Windows XP as well.
Partition Magic 8 made it a breeze to create the extra partition between Windows XP (the first partition) and Windows 2000 (the second partition).

Unfortunately when the Windows XP setup rebooted the first time during the setup, I got this error message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt.
Windows root\system32\hal.dll.
Please re-install a copy of the above file

Fortunately for the Partition Magic bootable rescue disks, which let me set the Windows XP partition active again, and boot into it..

An Internet search found numerous solutions for this, even a blog. I didn't get far with the solutions, and decided to leave it for later.

Then I though I'd check that my Windows 2000 partition was still working. It wasn't, so I moved the windows 2000 partition back (forward?) so it was the second partition on the hard disk, where it had been before.

Then it gave this error message:

Windows 2000 could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
\(Windows 2000)\System32\Ntoskrnl.exe

Okay, now I'm going to have to fix this one first...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Trojan Exploits Windows DRM

According to, Anti-Virus and security vendor Panda Labs is reporting the discovery of a threat that takes advantage of Windows Digital Rights Management (DRM).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Microsoft Abandons Passport

According to Speed Guide, Microsoft is abandoning Microsoft Passport, one of its most controversial attempts to dominate the Internet.

Microsoft Offers Virus-Removal Program

From My Way News: a Microsoft executive confirmed the company's plans to sell its own antivirus software, which would compete against programs from McAfee, Symantec and others.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

DSL working

I finally got DSL working on my old Desktop PC. I needed a longer CAT-5 UTP (Unshielded Twisted-Pair) cable which bought from RadioShack. Apparently DSL won't worked with "Patch Cables" - which works with Cable. I also had to change the static IP address that I had assigned to the machine in Windows XP Networking

Saturday, January 01, 2005

DSL for the New Year

For the New Year I'm trying DSL, or at least trying to try DSL. For a total of 4 hours over 2 successive nights the furthest I've got is installing the DSL software and setting up the account. That may sound good, but it took less than an hour to set up my Cable modem connection the first time.

So, if I have cable internet (fast cable internet I might add), why am I bothering with DSL?. Simple Economics: The DSL should save me over $100 per year.
I have 30 days to decide whether to keep the DSL. So far the prognosis is not good. Unless it goes smoother I'll be returning the DSL package...