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Palm(One) Tungsten T3 (yes I know it's been replaced by the T5 which has been replaced by the TX, but it still rocks)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