Tagged: gadgets

How safe do you feel?

Most people I know do not have any plan to backup their data. Somehow they put their trust to a piece of 3.5″ glass disc, spinning at 5400 times a second or more with a sharp metal spike fraction of a hair above it. Me? I like to spread my risk and backup my data, especially after suffering a total data lost about 12 years ago. As Alex Lindsay from the PixelCorps often says on podcasts, “Unless the data is stored in 3 different places, it doesn’t exist”. This may sound over the top but with all the online file sharing or storage services available it is actually pretty easy to have decent backup strategy with minimum cost. To achieve comprehensive backup coverage, it would definitely cost a few dollars.

Like computer security, any backup strategy should be constructed in layers. This applies to both time, location, and accessibility. Let me use my backup strategy as an example.

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m4a tags to ID3 tags

One of the great thing about my new E61 is that the built-in music player supports AAC files. So I can play all of my tracks encoded in iTunes. But the one thing the music player can’t do is to read the tags information in the m4a files. It only reads ID3 tags. After some googling, I’ve found this Windows app called mp3tags that copies the tags info in the m4a files into the ID3 tag fields, thus allowing the music player to read and displays them on the screen. But I can’t find any equivalent on the Mac. That sucks! May be it is time for me to dive into XCode and write a tag converter myself!

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The BlackBerry Saga

Last Monday Cingular introduced the BlackBerry Personal Plan, which at $29.99/month is a bit of a bargain when the old unlimited plan is $44.99/month. I quickly changed Leah’s BB onto that plan and also signed myself up for the E61. Using the BlackBerry Connect software on my E61, I should be able to get BB Push emails which, if works, would make the phone even better.

I hit the first snag when my BB Connect PIN didn’t get pushed through to RIM’s server for over a day, and required me to log into Cingular’s Customer Forum online to get it done. So I was able to create a BB email account late in Monday night (~1AM) and added my three email addresses. So far so good, I thought. But then no service book was sent to my phone and so nothing was coming through. I gave up waiting after 15 minutes and went to bed. I guess Cingular’s server migration from using BIS 1.8 to 2.0 on the same Monday didn’t work well under load.

On Tuesday morning nothing had changed but now I couldn’t add more email address to my BB account. Strange, I thought, but again I put it down to RIM server overloaded. Then after lunch, emails started arriving so I thought everything was going to be fine. The only problem I had up to that point was unable to access the web while BB Connect is running in the background. I read about this on various forums on the net but I thought it was just a glitch that would resolve itself once everything is working.

Then I logged onto the customer forum again to resolve my inability to add more email account. The Cingular agent was very good, she even called RIM for me about the problem. But when she told RIM that I have a E61, RIM refused to help me in anyway because the E61 is a unsupported device. While I understand they can’t help every customers with unlocked phones from outside North America, my problem was so server based that I got very annoyed by their attitude. No attempt was made to even see what the issue was.

So I did the best thing I could do, and the worst for Cingular/RIM, I asked the agent to take off my BB plan and that was it. Doesn’t make much sense really for Cingular/RIM to lose $29.99/month over a device that they are not supported (yet). I bet if I’ve told them I have a Nokia 9500 they would have helped me. But my point was that it shouldn’t have been an issue at the first place. If RIM really wants to expand into the consumer market, they need to rethink their support position. At the end of the day, it was their loss. I still get my email, albeit slightly delayed but I don’t have to beg/lie to get support.

I would probably try again when Cingular releases the rumoured E62, which is a cut down version of E61 (no Wi-Fi, no 3G). Then I can just tell them I have the E62 and that will be that.

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Rein of Terror has ended

The week of being the boss-man has ended for me. My bosses were in TechEd in Boston this week so I have to be in charge during the last five days. Not really that stressful (nothing like when I was working at JPMorganChase) since it basically involved managing eight developers and four QA engineers during product release week. So it is just a simple matter of juggling priority and resources while keeping the CTO informed and happy.

At least I have my shiny new Nokia E61 to play with throughout the week as a distraction. Despite some minor bugs and quirks, this phone is definitely the best smartphone I have used thus far. Build is solid with great RF performance, as expected from Nokia, while the gorgeous screen and true multi-task Symbian OS means I actually become more focus on what I can do than baby-sitting the stupid Palm OS from crashing! The only problem is to fine a nice carrying case for it. The Krusell case I ordered earlier in the week arrived today but it is too thick for the slim E61. I’ll try it out for a week or so to see how well it works with my everyday usage, but the search continues.

Yesterday Nokia released their podcast software for beta testing. Works perfectly and I am able to pull most of the podcasts on my phone (except iTunes Music Tuesday which is encoded in m4a format that E61’s music player doesn’t support). I can’t wait for my stereo headset/phones to arrive so I can listen to podcasts on my E61 for the commuting when I don’t want to carry my iPod, such as trip to the golf course.

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No internet or HDTV

When I got home this evening I found that the lights on the cable modem was not flashing. So I promptly cycled the power, hoping it would solve the problem like previous times. Not so lucky this time and when I turned on the TV to see if it was just the cable modem I found the set-top box was out too. So no internet or TV, and this happened on the night of 24 season finales!

Time Warner Cable could only send a technician out here on Wednesday so we’ll be entertainment-less until then. At least the recorded shows on the DVR are Ok so at we can watch them. And I guess this also give me time to read all the magazines and books…