Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rant: Solving Problems No One Had!

There's nothing that drives me as nuts as man hours wasted on a 'problem' that no one really had. And I had to talk myself off the ledge when the new Sony Ericcson earphones with motion sensor- who is the lazy schmuck that needs the music to stop playing when you remove the bud from your ear. And last I checked, it takes more effort to remove a bud than to tap a button (on the phone or on the headset itself).
Beejive IM for Blackberry released a long-awaited update to its app. At $30, everyone was waiting with baited breath for them to release a push IM solution, similar to the one that IM+ has which lets the app close, but sends notifications to your email inbox- saving battery and process power. What Beejive released was a hodge-podge of ridiculousness, with a "push-solution" that requires the app to remain running in the background, but still sends messages to your mailbox- but not really. Because when your phone receives the email, its intercepted by the app which opens up. No battery life is conserved, and to add insult to injury, your messages aren't even available in your inbox for later review. However, for some reason, the feature they did get around to adding is....wallpaper. Seriously? When was the last time you used an IM client and longed for some wallpaper to get the party started?
I always wonder what type of amazing innovation and improvements could be made if the energy spent with these ideas was directed at solving actual problems we really have. Its sometimes interesting to see what these minds can come up with, but when you are trying to convince me that you are solving a problem that I never actually had you completely alienate me as a customer, and convince me as a consumer that you have no idea what my real issues are. Hey Sony, if you really want to impress me, make a pair of headphones that won't tangle- now *that* would change the way I listen to music!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Twitter App: Tweeteev

For a few months now there have been murmurings about a new Twitter client about to burst onto the Blackberry scene. Their home page describes their app as a "disruptive" client for Twitter. Well, today I finally got some face time with Tweeteev and was able to see just how disruptive it really is.

To begin with, there's a landing page when you start up Tweeteev, or when bring it back up from background mode. If you run it in the background, it will show a count of the tweets, replies, and dms you missed. This is a nice touch for those that don't want to be notified every time they get an @ reply. However, there's no way (that I could see) to get a notification for new messages.


Once you select which messages you want to look at, you are presented with a nice interface with font that I find to be a smidge smaller than comfortable. Again, no way to configure this. But I do like that it tells you what app was used to post the message- I find that to be vital information when reading a tweet.


As a Blackberry user now, I've become very accustomed to my keyboard shortcuts. There's nothing I enjoy more than being able to hit "r" to reply to a message, or "f" to retweet while in SocialScope. Unfortunately, the way this works in Tweeteev is that you must first select the message, at which time you'll be able to use the keyboard shortcuts. Minor inconvenience, but not a dealbreaker.
Once you select a tweet, you get an overview of the user, with their full name, follower count and location. You can click on #hashtags and links for more information.


From this early look, I'd have to say Tweeteev is shaping up to be a strong contender in the Blackberry space. With its transition gestures and eyecandy, I see it pitted more against TweetGenius, especially if its going to be a free release (TweetGenius is a paid app with no evaluation period or trial version).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Last Shot Nano

Well, after all the mishaps of yesterday, I'll start by saying I have a very happy husband now. And that's after spending almost double what he had hoped to!

I called the Apple Store to see what my options were as far as getting the iPod fixed, and the man I spoke to told me they were fully booked for appointments and recommended I just take it back to Walmart. So, once again, we all piled into the truck and headed to our friendly local Walmart. The night before, the salesguy had sold us the very last iPod Nano, so I wasn't sure what we'd end up doing....and then I noticed that they had restocked, and now had tons of iPod Nanos. I scooped one up, opened it to power it up and was ready to do an even exchange when we were informed there was a $30 difference since this was the newest version- complete with a video recorder.

I spent a futile few moments trying to convince them since we had been incovenienced by their defective device, which they could not now evenly exchange for the same device, they ought to consider it an even swap. The manager did not see it my way- she tersely told me she'd rather just give us a refund for the whole thing and have us "go somewhere else" rather than do that. On a sidenote- I'm not saying I was entirely correct, but that was a truly 'duh?' moment for me yesterday. I was my usual charming friendly self and this 'manager' was so unpleasant and her logic was so bizzarre that I was tempted to do just that. In fact, if Dean hadn't insisted on just paying the additional $30 so we wouldn't be forced to continue the ordeal, I would have done just that!

Once we got back home, it was a simple matter of connecting it to Dean's computer to get all his podcasts synced up since I had already installed iTunes the previous evening. Everything loaded up nicely, and this morning he was happy to get all of his ESPN and/or NFL podcasts, albeit a few days behind. I spoke to him this afternoon, and so far the verdict is in: Apple's not that sucky after all!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Sucks???

Apple Note, originally uploaded by lulugirl896.

I found this note on my kitchen counter this morning. What precipitated such a strong reaction from my usually level-headed husband, you might ask? Well, it all started 2 days ago, when his Zune 8GB suddenly stopped working. He had been enjoying it for several months, especially his podcasts, when the combination of being outside in the week-long rain spell, and lack of waterproof case came together to abruptly kill off his Zune.
Yesterday we went first to Target, then to Walmart to look for a replacement Zune for him. We couldn't find any (although, sidenote, Walmart did already have the ZuneHD in stock) so we started looking into other alternatives. I've had reasonably good success with my iPod Touches, as well as my iPhone-as-an-iPod so I convinced him to take a look at the Nano.
We found the only iPod Nano in stock, which was a 16GB black one, and armed with a waterproof case, we came home and I downloaded iTunes to his desktop. The Nano wouldn't turn on but I assumed it was because the battery needed to be charged, so I plugged it in. synced up some of his favorite podcasts and let it sit for a while.
A few hours later we were getting 'Syncing' and 'Connected' messages on the iPod, but every time we tried to disconnect it, it was completely unresponsive. We plugged it back in, hoped for the best after an overnight charge and went to bed.
When I woke up this morning I was curious how he had made out with the Nano since he had already left for work. I got showered and dressed and came downstairs and found the Nano all boxed up with this note beside it. I'm guessing the Nano still wouldn't power up.
I'm hugely disappointed because I was really looking forward to getting Dean into the Apple entertainment eco-system with me. I'm going to head over to the nearest Apple Store today and see if I can get them to look at it. His final word was that he wants to take it back to Walmart and get 'anything but an iPod', but I'm hoping that if I can get it fixed at the Genius bar with no cost, I can lure him back with the shiny new screen. And failing that, we'll be back on the hunt for another Zune.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

App-A-Day: TV Forecast

photo.jpg, originally uploaded by lulugirl896.

I stumbled on this gem in the AppStore after unceremoniously finding out that Handmark had discontinued all of their mobile TV Guide offerings. It's for the iPhone, and you simply find your shows in their database and you end up with a nice listing of upcoming shows and episode details. You can click on the image for a synopsis of the episode and you'll be able to view the titles of the upcoming episodes by show. File this one under off-line apps, too- without a data connection it will show you the last information it was able to cache, so you can see what shows are coming on tonight right from the subway!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

GPS Safety Tip

Do you have a GPS device in your car? Do you also have a garage door opener? I really hadn't thought about how easy it would be for a car thief to become an intruder until my husband gave me a valuable tip a few weeks ago.
Our Magellan GPS has a handy feature which gives you a quick access shortcut to 'Home' so that you can quickly get directions home from your current location. I had set home to...well, our home address. Well, if my vehicle was ever stolen, it would be an all-access pass for them to get right inside the house. Instead of using my home address, I use a nearby store which will get me to my general neighborhood.
If you have a GPS device, whether its built-in or removable, please use this tip to stay safe.

Sent via BlackBerry Bold

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Geeky Bank

I've been grumbling under my breath for the past few weeks, ever since Chase bank effectively devoured my favorite bank of all time: Washington Mutual. I loved WaMu for their laid back attitude, from the 'pods' throughout their branches, to their blue and khaki dress code. Everything about it just seemed hip.
So imagine my disappointment when a few weeks ago I popped into a branch only to be greeted by the conventional row of tellers, Chase branding throughout, and suits... I conducted my business, but was not happy about it.
Over the next few week weeks though, I started to notice things here and there that were making my life...easier? I'd never noticed just how many Chase branches they have. I cannot drive a full mile without bumping into one. And I noticed that when I use their BillPay system it deducts the funds immediately from my balance, making sure my bankbook matches up right away, rather than the next day like WaMu used to. Their mobile bank site is very full featured, and lets me do just about everything I can from the full site, including pay bills.
The cincher happened earlier this week. While I have direct deposit for my paycheck, we still get cut regular checks for our expenses, meaning I had to deposit it in my account after work. I had Seth in the car with me and didn't want to go through the hassle of unstrapping him to go into the branch, so I decided to go through the ATM. As I approached I noticed there were no deposit envelopes- grrr, but I decided I would just write my account number on the envelope the check was in, throw it into the ATM and hope for the best. That was when I noticed the big notices advertising envelope-free check deposits- what the hay, I'll give it a shot, I figured. I put my check in as instructed and prepared to key in the deposit amount- but the scan that popped up on the screen already read the amount off the check and asked me to confirm if it was correct. I confirmed it was correct, and it printed me out a deposit receipt complete with a photo of the scanned check! Color me impressed! As you can imagine, as soon as I got home I immediately tossed it into my scanner for entry into Evernote. With that, I can say that WaMu is but a distant memory in my mind- and hey, if the staff at my bank want to wear a suit instead of khakis, I think I can learn to live with that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Summer of My Discontent

Summer is over and I can't help feeling a little...let down. I had so many high hopes for the season and now that its over- its over.
I started the Summer with enthusiasm about the Palm Pre, the next generation of Windows Mobile and what Android was going to do next.

The Palm Pre is certainly revolutionary- the 'cards' wowed us when we first saw them. But after 2 months and barely 40 apps in the App Catalog its been a bit of a buzzkill. Coupled with the questionable build quality (Oreo anyone?) and the downright painful keyboard, the Pre did not really fulfil the dream.

Windows Mobile is only now (in the fall) promising to deliver 6.5, after many months of WM7 whisperings. And while it looks like an interesting step, it appears to be more of a skin- something HTC or SPB Shell could have put together over a long weekend. Device-wise, nothing really interesting has come out, and the QWERTY-bar Pro phones seem like an altogether abandoned niche.

Android looked promising for a moment with the HTC Hero, but rumors of dreadful lag relegated it to the same fate as the older, choppy Windows Mobile devices. The Sense UI seemed like a winner, and I'm still holding out hope that it will somehow find its way into the mainstream market. In fact, in using the new Blackberry Messenger, I notice that my contacts who are both on Facebook and Blackberry Messenger have an interface that looks almost...Sense-ish? It makes me optimistic for the new versions of SMS Chat and IM on Blackberry OS5.

I'm going to be hopeful for the fall- I can't help it: I'm a foolish optimist that way. I want to be blown away by the new 6.5 Windows Phones. I need the HTC Tattoo to knock my socks off. I need Palm to make a totally unprecendented move and release a new phone that has the body of the Bold, the brains of the HTC Hero and the horsepower of a netbook. Because, honestly, so far its all been a bit of a yawnfest.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Taking Liberties....

If you thought the crazy situation at work had somehow resolved itself, you'd be dead wrong. Yesterday, the manager in question came back from her vacation/sick leave combo thingie and about 9 in the morning she curtly popped her head in my office and told me that she was busy with payroll (we all were!) and that after she was done 'we'll talk'. To which I calmly replied "Good Morning", because, you know, that's how I was raised to start my first conversation of the day with people.
I didn't hear from her again until late afternoon when an email popped up from her telling me she would need to postpone our meeting until Wednesday morning at 10am. I didn't reply- what is there left to say at this point. This morning (Wednesday) at 10:15 she still hadn't shown up in my office, so I went to look for her. She then said she was just about to send me an email, because something else came up and she couldn't make it at 10am.
Here's the thing- I really hate games. And I also hate having my time wasted. If you can't make a 10am meeting, then common decency should at least guide you to cancel no later than a few minutes prior. And if you have the time to sit at your desk to draft a cancellation email, when it would take a few seconds to tell me in person, then something is seriously amiss. If she thinks all this stalling is going to give me time to 'cool off' then she is sorely mistaken. I've already spoken to our CFO about the situation, and she is in total agreement that this is B.S. and disrespectful. She's giving me a few days to attempt to get it all sorted out, at which point it will become a formal sit-down with the CEO, who has already been less than enthralled with her performance and attendance lately.

Palm Pixi heads to Sprint...For some reason or the other


Well folks, there you have it. Boy Genius is reporting that the new webOS device, the Palm Pixi is Sprint-bound. The specs are kind of lackluster, especially the omission of WiFi, but we already knew the Pixi was a lower-end device. What I'm confused about is why Sprint would be getting this device when subscribers are already able to get the high-end Pre now for just about $100. It seems a smarter move for Palm would be to give this one to Verizon and corner 50% of the carrier market.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Waiting List

Here are a few updates I'm looking forward to seeing on some Blackberry apps any day now:

1. Beejive: an update to allow it to auto-run on startup, and also to consume less battery.
2. Socialscope: an update to remove the annoying 'beta' popup on each startup, incorporate Flickr, and allow you to view Facebook photo comments.
3. A Youtube application for improved video quality.
4. A Viigo update with improved memory management, and more service incorporation.
5. A TV Guide app. Why, oh why, did Handmark yank theirs?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Madness Continues....

Here's the followup to yesterday's tale. I received this email first thing this morning:

I will not be in today.
Bxxxxxx: I will need to cancel my 9am meeting and the
2pm meeting with Mr. Xxxxxxxx.
Cxxxxxx: Ixxxxx called in sick and I was able to reach Dxxxxxx. She will work at Clinic B today. Jxxxxx knows exactly what to do today in Medical Records.Do not under any circumstances pull him to the back to work as a MA.
If Exxxx is better today, I would prefer that she go to Clinic B instead of Dxxxx so that Dxxxxx could work on her referrals.
Lulu: Would you oversee the front desk for me? Thanks!
I will see you on Friday morning.

Now, to the casual onlooker, it appears like a well thought-out notification email. But when you combine it with the fact that at no point in time has she even taken a moment to speak to me in person about the week that she was already out, this is unbelievable to me. Balls.of.steel.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm Furious!

Disclaimer- this is in no way tech related. Its about a situation that unfolded this week that has me really irritated. Am I irrational about this? You tell me.

A fellow manager in another department who started about 2 months ago decided to take a vacation. Because there has been so much going on in the clinic lately, she approached me and asked if I would oversee her department while she was gone for a week. She promised that she'd touch base before she left to get me up to date on who she had put in charge of what, and let me know when she was headed out (she was leaving in the middle of the day).
Imagine my surprise when last Wednesday afternoon I found out that she had left- without saying a word to me. And then I found out that she had sent out a detailed email to the other managers reminding them that I was the point person for the next few days- a message she sent to everyone, except me.
So, I went ahead and hustled all week to hold down her fort as well as my own. Even though I have a million and one month-end projects and reports that I needed to either postpone or stay late to get done.
Late this morning she came back from her vacation. From my office I saw her walk in and she threw a wave as she came in. I fully expected that after a week away, she would settle in and then come and see me, if for nothing else to find out how things had gone. No such courtesy. the whole day passed and she did not stop in to say a word. She walked past my office several times, and not once did she even say "Hey, I need to make time to speak with you later." or, even a basic "Thanks". I couldn't believe what was going on!
Finally, at a quarter to 5pm she sent an email to all the managers (including me this time) and our CEO to say that she wants to have a meeting tomorrow morning at 9am for us to debrief her. What??? What could have been a 5 minute conversation is now being drawn out into a long meeting, and pushing my projects further back! How hard is it to:
-Tell me when you're leaving?
-Include me on an email?
-Touch base when you return?
-Thank me for doing 2 jobs for a week?