Ten years ago marked the birth of the first commercially successful PDA in the market -- the 5.7-ounce Pilot organizer. I use the term PDA in the strict modern sense of course, because, let's face it, Casio had a commercially successful Digital Diary series prior to the Pilot. There's also the Zaurus, but then it wasn't exactly a commercial success. Ditto with the Apple Newton. No, it was the Pilot that first made commercial mobile computing history. It was a true handheld computer, capable of running a wide variety of programs. It had a large touch-screen, was capable of recognizing scribbles, and it synchronized its data with your PC. Ten years ago, I fell madly in love with this device. And when I got my Pilot 5000 at the tail-end of 1996, it was as if a part of myself fell into place. Right there and then, without reading the manual at all, I just knew how to use it. In fact, I practically started writing in Graffiti almost instinctively, and I only had to glance at the cue strip for the more esoteric symbols. Over the years, I moved up to a Palm III, a Palm 505, and now to my Tungsten T|3, which is still going strong after two years. And I still have all the original data that I had from my old Pilot 5000 of ten years ago! Today, I'm still dependent on my Palm for my organizing needs. All of my contacts find their way into its ever expanding address book, and I have grown dependent on its calendar for planning out my days (I have a horrible memory, so if it ain't on my Palm, then it don't exist). I have lost data only once -- and that was when I just arrived from Malaysia; I was running along the airport, and my Palm III popped out of my bag and landed corner-first onto the tile floor. But then the only data that I lost were the notes that I had from my trip. Other favorite apps: DocsToGo, which allows me to bring along my most important docs and spreadsheets; Salling Clicker, a perfect little app which transforms the T3 into a Bluetooth-connected PowerPoint remote (complete with Lecture Notes and sneak previews of the next slides); and RealOne, which turns the unit into an emergency MP3 player. Will I move on to a newer Palm unit? For now, no. My well-worn T|3 still does me fine, thank you. The Tungsten T|X was tempting at first, especially because it has Wi-Fi, but then I learned that it didn't come with a memo recorder. And danged if I would survive without a memo recorder! Ten years later, Palm is still going strong, perhaps to almost everyone's surprise. In fact, it's most recent quarter saw Palm's revenues climb by a whopping 36 percent, primarily on the strength of its Treo 650 smartphone sales. So we'll still be seeing quite a lot of Palm (the hardware company, at least) for a very long time. After almost a decade, I'm still a die-hard Palm user. And I'm looking forward to another decade of Palm use if I can help it! To all you happy Palm users out there, Keep On Palming!
March 2006 Archives
How many times have you sent an SMS message, only to later on discover that the other party has never received it? "Yeah, lots of times," you say. "Big deal." But it is a big deal. And that's the problem. Unlike voice calls, which give us instant feedback as to whether or not the other party is actually receiving our call, text messages do not give us any feedback facility. And the only way we'll know whether or not the other party has received our SMS message is if he or she actually replies... often with a curt "K." Which still costs a buck. Here's the problem. Telecoms will charge you for messages that you send, regardless of whether or not the other party actually receives these. I guess they were following the post office model, where you pay for your mail whether or not they actually get received. Fine, I'll accept that. But what I have a problem with is that unlike the postal service, which eventually informs me whether or not my mail has been received, my telecom refuses to inform me. So if I text my neighbor that his house is on fire, I have no way of knowing whether or not he actually received my message, short of him replying with a curt "K." There was a time, circa 1997, when mobile phones came with a text confirmation option that let you know when your text was actually received by the other party. So back then, when I sent a text message with my ancient Nokia 3810, I could receive an SMS that let me know when the other party has actually received my message. But my telecom service soon stopped supporting this feature, perhaps to save on SMS bandwidth. And phone-makers soon completely forgot about text confirmation as well. Here's my take. If my text message expires without ever reaching its destination, then it's my telecom's moral obligation to inform me so. Otherwise, I will be forever in the dark as to whether or not people are actually receiving my messages or are just ignoring me (like they usually do). That should be the least that they can do for me for my one peso! Because if they can't do this for me, then my next recourse is to demand my money back everytime a message doesn't reach its destination. Like the time I composed an 11-part SMS novella and it was never received, darn it. I want my eleven pesos back. And as for the rest of us text-consuming populace, we all have to learn to put our collective foot down and stop letting telecoms get away with this travesty of justice. If we suspect that our messages are not getting received, then let's demand our money back! Let's not let them get away with the presumption that we're too laid back to complain about unreceived messages. Because it is a big deal. Me? I'm gonna demand for my eleven pesos back...
Here's something interesting our sister publication PC Magazine Philippines is plugging. We hope you can attend.
IF YOU'RE THE OWNER OF A SMALL- OR MEDIUM-SIZED BUSINESS: PC Magazine Philippines, in partnership with Intel Microelectronics Philippines and Microsoft Philippines, invite you to a SEMINAR ON HOW INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CAN BE USED TO YOUR BUSINESS ADVANTAGE. It's a WHOLE DAY seminar, inclusive of BUFFET LUNCH AT THE DUSIT HOTEL NIKKO, morning and afternoon snacks, seminar materials and certificates of participation. Yes, it's at the DUSIT HOTEL NIKKO, at the Ayala Center, Makati City. And IT'S FREE! You see, with two of the largest I.T. companies on board, we can afford to give participants all of the above benefits and advantages. The only thing that our partners ask for is that we provide them with QUALITY PARTICIPANTS.If you happen to own a small- or medium-sized business, whether it be a family firm, a partnership, a corporation or a single proprietorship, and if you really want to know what the latest I.T. technologies are and how they can help you, then please do join us. It's a ONE DAY EVENT that you won't regret participating in. And it's free, with no strings attached, so you have nothing to lose! Well okay, there IS one string attached. You see, the seminars will already happen NEXT WEEK: - For wholesale/retail or trading-oriented businesses, MARCH 28 (Tuesday) - For manufacturing-oriented businesses, MARCH 30 (Thursday) - For service-oriented businesses (including accounting firms, legal firms, etc.), MARCH 31 (Friday) So we really need your reservations NOW because, since it IS free, there will only be LIMITED SLOTS. If you believe yourself to fit the participant profile, and you sincerely want to learn about the latest technologies that can be at your disposal (not to mention a free buffet lunch at the Dusit!), we need you to reserve NOW. Please email us your NAME, COMPANY, POSITION, and CONTACT INFO (mobile, office, email) at firstname.lastname@example.org OR call us at the HINGE INQUIRER PUBLICATIONS office at 813-4396, 840-0196, or 813-6848 local 804 and 805. OR fax us the above info at 759-2022 to 24. And we will get in touch with you and take care of the rest.
m|PH, the most visible home-grown magazine on mobile technology is now available in newsstands for the month of April. This summer, m|PH turns up the heat with the sizzling Phoemela Baranda on the cover. Phoem talks about her hectic traveling experiences, how people mispronounce her name and gives some friendly advice to matching your gadgets to your lifestyle. In this issue, we also feature the beautiful Ala Paredes, a true artist in every sense. In a last minute effort to catch her before she migrates to Australia with her family, Ala talks about her identity as a Filipino and how we are so in love with music - mobile music that is! It's all about the great outdoors and traveling for the month of April so the editors have decided to showcase the latest techniques in ruggedizing your digital devices and how to spruce up your digital camera for some fun in the sun. The issue also features an exclusive look at the BenQ-Siemens buyout with a special hands on review of the S88, the new flagship phone of the "East meets West" merger. This issue also contains reviews of the new Kodak V570, the world's first dual lens camera, the new Motorola SLVR and the 3G-ready Nokia N70. m|PH, which stands for Mobile Philippines, is a monthly publication geared towards the Filipino who is always on the go. Faithful readers have always described m|PH as the most informative and engaging among all the technology magazines because it is smart, engaging and witty. m|PH is available at all news stands and technology hubs for just P80.00 per issue.
Here's a short preview of the award-winning dual lens consumer camera from Kodak. We really wished the V570 had a stylish name to go with its compact and elegant form factor. Having roughly three weeks to play with the camera, we were able to do some urban and beach snapping. At the very core of the V570 is the dual-lens. Consumers have been baffled by what it means for a point-and-shoot cam to have two sets of lenses linked to one CCD. The first is a 39-117mm 5x optical zoom lens, which comes as no surprise. The second is an ultra-wide angle 23 mm "fishbowl lens" capable of panorama stitching 3 shots for a full 180 degree view of the horizon. I must note that each lens has its own CCD - which links to main 5MP CCD sensor of the camera. So how does this work exactly? The ultra-wide lens kicks in when you zoom out (zooming in starts the digital zoom after the camera has exhausted the optical zoom). We noticed that the 2.5 inch LCD flickered for a split second, which was the indication that the second lens has been activated, allowing you to take wide angle shots and do amusing fishbowl distortions. Catch the full review plus a travel log feature with this neat phone inside April's m|PH. Available in stands this week!
Sometime in the near future, we can expect to finally see a completely solid-state laptop. "Wait, aren't laptops already solid-state right now?" Well, almost. As far as the processor, main board, and memory are concerned, your typical laptop would be solid-state indeed. In other words, everything is electronic, with no mechanical or electromechanical parts. But there's still one electro-mechanical part in your laptop, and this is the hard drive, which is basically a bunch of high-spinning magnetic discs that are read by a swinging arm. And if you care to nitpick, there's also the cooling fan, which also involves the use of a spinning motor. Here's what's going to happen. By late 2008, we can expect to see a purely solid-state laptop. And it will be a result of trends that are happening right now among the different components of your laptop. Two trends in particular will make this happen: o Flash drives, which are solid-state memory devices, are now improving technologically at a rate that is faster than Moore's Law (which states that computer technologies double in performance very 18 months). The iPod nano introduced us to the 4GB flash drive. But by late 2008, we can expect to see 32GB flash drives at the least. And when that happens, we will see the first attempts at replacing laptop hard drives with flash drives. 0 Processor manufacturers are now realizing the need for cooler-running mobile chips. To date, the emphasis has always been on faster processors that consume greater amounts of power (and therefore heat up more). But the growing emphasis on mobile computing has been gradually changing the mindset of processor-makers, and we may soon see high-performance chips that can survive on passive cooling solutions (i.e. no fans necessary) alone. Put these two trends together and what we can envision is that by late 2008, we may be seeing the first true solid-state laptop, offering a powerful, passively-cooled processor, at least 1GB of RAM, and at least 32GB of flash memory. Because there are no moving parts, we can expect this to be a laptop that we can truly manhandle. And since it's solid-state and with a more power-efficient processor, the battery life can be amazing. Perhaps a twenty-hour battery life may no longer be too far-fetched. What's more, this is going to be one really light and wafer-thin laptop. One more thing. There is another emerging development that is bound to radically improve your laptop's displays as well. But the irony is that, unlike the developments above, we have a solid-state device (your laptop's LCD screen) transforming into an electromechanical one (!). This development is called MEMS, which is short for micro-electromechanical systems. The premise is that when color-carrying MEMS are used along with thin-film optics, these can create bright reflective displays. And because these are reflective displays, there will no longer be a need for backlighting, which is one of the greatest sappers of battery power in a laptop. Okay, so call it the near-solid-state laptop. The bottom line is that a couple of years from now, we can look forward to lighter, tougher, and more energy-efficient laptops thanks to these evolving technologies.
Butch Dalisay wrote an interesting piece at the STAR a few days ago . He talked about the current wireless craze a lot of coffee shops, restos and malls are getting into to lure paying customers inside. But Butch poses one question:
The ultimate question, of course, is what’s one to do with all that access and connectivity. Don’t you guys have a life—meals to cook, nappies to replace, exams to grade, cars to tune up, laundry to wash? (Reality check, hotel in Nagoya, November 2005: “I need a hotpot… No, no, not a hotspot, a hotpot—for cooking my noodles!
I got my hands on several 3G handsets. One of them happens to be the Nokia N80. It's not out on the market yet but sometimes work has its perks... I've had it for a couple of days but haven't had a chance to really play with it due to some other stuff. So let this serve as a first look/impression of the N80. I've stopped being a Nokia fan when I started using Sony Ericsson phones. Having now tried the N80, Nokia is starting to reel me back in. The N80 shares the same sliding design of Nokia's first Series 60 phone, the 7650. I've never been really a fan of the slider since it's a bit cumbersome to text with but with the N80 I'm willing to let it slide. The demo unit I have is black but I've heard that it might also come in silver. Measuring at 95.4 x 50 x 23.4 mm, it's small for a slider but still a bit thick to comfortable fit in pocket. Then again I'm probably just not used to these types of phone. Having used small phones for the past few years. But I have a feeling that people who come from Series 60 phones won't have a problem with the size. The display of the N80 is measures at 352 x 416 pixels with 262,144 colors. The higher resolution results in a finer graphics. Although I find the screen still not bright enough. Comparing it to Motorola screens, this one is still dark. One thing I love about the N80 is the inclusion of WiFi (802.11g) capabilities. It took me several minutes to figure out how to connect the phone to our WiFi network here at home. Chalk that up due to the fact that I didn't have the manual. Well even if I did I wouldn't have probably read it either... I got to surf some web sites through the phone's browser. One word... Awesome. For a phone browser the N80's was wicked. It showed some cool features such as a preview of the whole page with a rectangle box outlining where in the page you are. It also has a mouse pointer, same as what you'd find on a desktop. Although while the browser was impressive to an extent it did crash on several sites. Still not sure why this happens though. The N80's browser is built on Safari Webcore technology. I wasn't able to test the 3G capabilities because, one I don't have a 3G Sim and I was told there wasn't a 3G signal here at my place. Oh well... The N80 is quad band so it will fair well with road warriors. It features GSM (850/900/1800/1900) and either 1900 (US) or 2100 (Europe) WCDMA radios. This baby can travel. Software. The phone features the latest iteration of the Symbian OS, ver 9.1. The latest OS features better standard apps, a new user interface and support for higher screen resolutions. This baby comes with a 3MP camera which produces decent photos. I haven't fully explored the camera functions but the controls really start to feel like a point and shoot digital camera. It works on landscape mode with the shutter positioned as where you'd expect it on a point and shoot camera. All in all, the N80 is a great phone so far. I'll let you know if this impression holds up as I get to play with it more in the coming days.
And it's about time! We've been salivating all over the Nokia N91 since we first saw it at a sneak peak early last year. And for good reason -- this Series 60 phone features an onboard 4GB hard drive, music player capabilities, 3G, an Opera-based browser, mini-USB port, a 2 megapixel camera that takes MPEG-4 videos, Bluetooth... and WiFi! And it's finally coming out locally this April, along with the Nokia N71 and the N80. But yes it has been a year. So the question now is: Is the N91 still as exciting as it was when we first laid our eyes on it? Honestly, the problem is the onboard hard drive. Back in early 2005, in a world where the Palm LifeDrive was the king of the hill, having a 4GB hard drive onboard made a lot of sense. And people swooned so much over having this much storage that they were willing to overlook a device's looking like a tub of lard. But in a post-nano world, the market may have become just a little bit too jaded already. Nowadays, an onboard hard drive will be fine, and you will be willing to live with your device's bulk, provided that it offers at least 20GB of memory. The iPod nano has taught us that a really slim gadget can offer 4GB of memory without any significant performance hit. But a really bulky device with just 4GB? You might be better off stuffing an N70 with the largest-capacity RS-MMC card you can find and using it as your MP3 player. Either that, or just get a flash-based MP3 player and get it over with. The N91 still has one trump card, though, and that is its built-in 802.11b WiFi capability. You can use the N91 as a network drive, sharing or sucking up MP3 files and other media to and from your PCs. And even more interesting, you can use this phone to surf the net cheaply at broadband speeds. Just hop into any WiFi hotspot and you can surf to your heart's content. And it's this feature that may give the N91 back much of its cachet. April is just around the corner. Hmmm...
There's no 3G signal at our office. Rats. So last night, armed with a Nokia N70 and a borrowed SMART Gold account, I took it upon myself to find out just where I can catch a decent 3G signal. And to accelerate the process, I decided to do it while riding the EDSA MRT. So here's my station-by-station account (most stations anyway) of where 3G signals can (and mostly can't) be found: Magallanes - Here's where I got on, heading northbound. 3G? Nada. Zero. Zip. Ayala - What was that? A faint trace of 3G as the MRT left the Ayala station... but only briefly. Darn. Buendia - There it goes again! A very quick pop-up of the 3G signal as the train approached the station. But... it was gone in a flash, and was nowhere to be found even as the train waited at the station for some time. Guadalupe - Still a big, fat zero. Thus far, there was no sustained 3G signal throughout the entire stretch. Boni - Surprise, surprise! As the train approached Boni, the 3G icon popped up... and was sustained even as the train ground to a halt! Pretty strong here. Hmmm. Could it have something to do with the fact that competitor Globe Telecom's headquarters is in the vicinity, and SMART wants to show them a thing or two? Hmmm... Shaw - The force is strong with this one! Lots of 3G pep. You could probably spend the day taking advantage of SMART's currently unlimited 3G videophone service when you're at the EDSA Plaza Mall. Ortigas - Surprisingly, 3G vanishes here yet again. Which is odd because this is where the Megamall and Galleria malls are. Not a peep of 3G. Santolan, Cubao and Kamuning - Not a single wisp of 3G. Not one bit. I got down at Kamuning and hoped to get a signal near the GMA-7 station. After all, wouldn't it be to SMART's best interest to have powerful media-type people using their service? And yet the most that I could get was the 3G icon popping up, but with zero signal strength. And that was that. I have scoured Quezon Avenue, Timog, T.Morato and Diliman the previous day and there was absolutely no 3G signal to be had. I decided to call it a day. Don't get me wrong. 3G is pretty strong in the commercial areas of Makati. And I suppose it will be strong in the commercial areas of Pasig as well. But the truth is that it's still pretty hard to find a 3G signal in most areas. Although I'm quite sure that SMART will be doing its best to roll them out over this year and the next. Meanwhile, there's no 3G signal at my place. Rats.