Blog-o! Notes from

Mon, 12 Nov 2007
More New Pictures!

You know where to get them.

[Posted at 22:54 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 08 Nov 2007
Choices, choices...

So I hit the Apple Store in the Eaton Center again today, to play with the iPod Touch a little more, and now I’m kind of sad that I did. There seem to be a few things about it that I don’t know if I can deal with. First, the screen apparently uses a capacitive screen, which basically means that you need to use your fingers to touch it. No slightly-longer-than-normal thumbnails, no left-over spare stylii, nothing that could make the large surface area of my stubby fingers slightly smaller. This turned out to be a little annoying when I was trying to type. I would probably get used to it if it weren’t for the second problem. Very few of the apps seem to support landscape-mode text input. Where by "very few", I mean "only Safari". The keyboard in portrait-mode is just a little too small for my fingers. Bah, who am I kidding? The keyboard in landscape-mode is just a little too small for my fingers. The keyboard in portrait-mode is way too small for my fingers.

So, I can’t really type on it. That’s a fairly big problem. But at least I can download videos and music from my website, so that when I’m at the office, and I see that my long DVD-to-iPod conversion has finished, I can grab a copy of it over HTTP to watch on the commute home… But when I tried it, it was a total no-go. None of the avis worked, which isn’t totally surprising, but the mp3s in the same directory also gave me the “Safari is unable to download this file”. WTF?!? An MP3 player that can’t play MP3s? The biggest downside of this whole trip is that I can’t really think of a good way around either of those problems. I mean, I guess text editors will come out which allow landscape-mode keyboards, but it’s going to be annoying every time I go to enter a new appointment, or contact. And I don’t have any idea what I could do to get around the no-downloading stuff. So I guess I’m back to looking at other options (and maybe ending up asking Jeremy for my SD Card back). And no, I don’t think the Nintendo DS is a reasonable replacement. It’s too… game-y. Not enough like an actual PDA.

[Posted at 20:49 by Blake Winton] link
Sat, 03 Nov 2007
A Tale Of Woe

A few weeks ago, I was reading a pdf file on my Palm TX, when all of a sudden, it reset itself. Now, if that was the end of this story, then it would have been slightly annoying, but nothing to post about. However, that’s nowhere near the end. After resetting itself, it came back to the initial orange Palm logo, as seen on the left, then it switched to the grey PalmPowered logo, as seen on the right. And there it sat. And sat. And sat… The only thing I could consistently do is reset it, and every time I did, it ended up on the grey screen, sitting there. Soft resets, debug resets, hard resets, zero-out resets… Nothing could get it to move past the grey screen. On the off chance it was just taking a long time to do its thing, I left it sitting overnight. In the morning, I opened it up expectantly finding… the grey screen again. I read on the internet that it might fix this problem if I left it sitting without any power for a week, so I did, and the next time I plugged it it? Yeah, grey screen. My heart was broken. What could I do?

I could call Palm’s tech support, and get a replacement! It’ld only be $35 to get them to ship one. But when I called I found that I was way out of warranty. Like, a year out of warranty. So I decided not to go that route, since it would be $150 to get it fixed, (or $185 to get the advance exchange,) and I just don’t have that kind of money kicking around. Then I remembered that I had bought an extended warranty from the store, good for a year after Palm’s warranty had run out, until Boxing Day of this year. Excellent, now I can just trade it in for a new one at the store. But, I couldn’t find the receipt from two years ago, nor could I find the credit card bill. So I’ld have to figure out a way of getting them to honour the warranty without knowing the warranty number. That was going to be hard, but in theory they had my information in their big database, so it should be possible. On the Monday morning, I was checking through our filing cabinet one last time before heading off to the store, and in the midst of a bunch of other receipts, (Why are we keeping receipts for two year old meat purchases, anyway? I’m pretty sure that at this point, even if the meat was bad, we couldn’t return it.) I found it! So now, with all my ducks in a row, I left for the store, Compusmart at Yonge and King.

Arriving at the store, I was slightly surprised to find the doors locked, and a notice up from the landlord, saying that this location was closed. Apparently, some time in the past two years, Compusmart had decided to close all of its Ontario locations. Well, great. What the heck do I do now? Getting to the office, I hit the internet, found a phone number, got redirected to a different phone number, and then spoke with someone who checked my warranty number (convieniently printed on my two-year-old receipt), and said that they’ld send me some email which I should sign and fax back. Since there were no more Compusmart stores left in Ontario, they couldn’t exchange the merchandise, and so they were going to buy it back from me for the purchase price of $400! I was elated, until I realized that, because I had already done an early exchange on this unit with Palm to fix an unrelated problem, the serial number on the back of the TX was different than the one they had on file. And I bet that’s the sort of thing you would check if you were going to send out a $400 cheque. I called them back, and asked what I should do. They replied that I would need to get some sort of proof from Palm that I had traded in the one unit for the other. After another set of phone calls and emails, I eventually got a PDF from Palm, listing the date, and the early advance exchange, and the two serial numbers, which I proceeded to forward off to the warranty company. And now I’m waiting for them to update my policy and send me their buyout agreement so that I can fax it back to them, send them my Palm TX, and get my $400.

In the meantime, I’ve got one of those problems people don’t mind having. I’m trying to figure out what to spend the money on. Should I get another Palm TX, with infrared keyboard, for $300? Basically replace my current setup, and pocket the extra $100? Or should I get something a little newer? That back there is supposed to be a link to the iPod Touch. Specifically, the 16 Gig version. (It’s really not, but let’s pretend it was.) It’s going for $449, which is a fair bit more than I’m getting a cheque for, but… If I go to the American Apple Store, I see that the price for the 16 Gig version there is only $399 USD, or around $373 Canadian. (Remind me, again, why I’m paying $70 ($80 USD!) more for stuff just because I live in Canada? Honestly, people, fix your freaking prices already!) And I know people in the States who would be more than happy to ship it to me. Heck, some of them might even be coming up here for Christmas, and could just pack it in their luggage. Uh, where was I? Oh, yeah, do I stick with the devil I know, or do I go for the devil I don’t know? I was leaning towards the Palm TX recently, because there’s no text editor/note taker for the iPod Touch, and you can’t create appointments in the Calendar app, two things I kind of do a lot of. But today I read about a text editor, and a way to enable the missing add-appointments feature. Then I was worried that the best way to view a PDF would be to convert it to text, but maybe not.

I think the thing that finally convinced me was this picture. Yeah, I’m a huge geek. What can I do? (This picture didn’t hurt either.)

[Posted at 20:13 by Blake Winton] link
Thu, 01 Nov 2007

Our neighbourhood loves Hallowe'en. At least half of the houses, it seems, are decorated, and the sidewalks were so thick with trick or treaters last night that most people weren't even bothering to close their doors between visitors. On our block most of our neighbours were sitting on the front porch steps chatting; some with wine, some without.

We decorated our house with three pumpkins (remember when one jack o' lantern was enough?) and three bats made from our leftover NDP campaign sign, painstakingly cut out and coloured with black magic marker. We also used the uprights upon which said sign was mounted to string a spiderweb to which I glued a spider, also made from the sign. (I decided I wasn't going to buy anything last month so we had to make our own decorations from whatever we had at hand. Thank goodness there had been an election!) It all looked pretty awesome, and all the more satisfying since we didn't just buy it at the dollar store. I guess today I should take it all down.

Last night Cordelia was dressed as a bumblebee, with yellow and black tights and a pair of sparkly wings. (The headband with antennae came off pretty early and Morgan and I ended up wearing it.) She loved trick or treating, and she wouldn't let anyone else hold her bag of candy even when it was almost too heavy for her to carry. She learned to say "t'ick a t'eat!" and "t'anks!" right away. Well, with prompting.

Delphine was a bunny, with fluffy ears, a beige hoodie (bunnyhug!) and a cottontail sewed to her white skirt. She was into trick or treating until she hit the Brick Wall of Sleepiness at around 7:15 and refused to get off the kiddy board until we got home. Cordelia trick or treated at a couple of different houses after that and when Delphine was asked if she wanted some candy she said "No thanks." When that kid is tired, she is tired.

After we got home and sorted through Delphine's candy, and ate some, we put the girls to bed (an hour late!) Then Blake and I picked through their respective booty and set aside the thirty most succulent (and safe, and appropriate) pieces (one for each day in November) for each girl, and kept the rest for ourselves! Well, Blake will take them to work and fatten up his colleagues. Then we sat and watched Band Candy and ate chocolate until we were done eating chocolate. Which, for reference, means we ate a lot of chocolate. Mmmm...

[Posted at 14:45 by Amy Brown] link