Saturday, December 27, 2008

iPhone killer? Maimer? Tickler?

I was a little surprised by the lack of "awesome tech" unleashed this year for Xmas. Usually November means the onslaught of more new tech goodies than you can shake a stick at, especially in the cell phone arena. I was particularly interested this year, because my Verizon contract is up in January and I've been considering the jump to AT&T to finally enjoy all the glories of the coveted iPhone. I was even given "permission" by the Queen on my birthday this year ("yes, you can get an iPhone" --she even made me a temporary placeholder out of an apple and a chocolate candy eye --apple eye phone, get it?).

The biggest problem I face is that we kind of (and god I hate to say this) "need" Verizon. Most of our family and friends are on Big Red, so if we switch, we're going to take a major hit to the minutes. I'm talking over 2500 minutes a month that currently go to "shared" minutes on the Verizon network. This is in addition to around 1100 "regular" minutes, and about 900 "nights and weekend" minutes. Those "in-network" minutes would now be regular minutes, meaning we'd have to go to a much, much more expensive plan. I like that AT&T has the rollover minutes, but I don't think that will come anywhere near to making up for the discrepancy.

So while I really, really want an iPhone, I'm not sure that I can afford to switch to AT&T. Therefore I'm left with what I see as three viable options: the Samsung Omnia, the Blackberry Storm, and the HTC Touch Pro (the Diamond looks like a crusty, old terrapin so it's out).

From the reviews I've read, the Omnia is kicking the Storm's ass on speed and the user interface. The Omnia virtual keyboard, while physically smaller, is also more accurate than the Storm keyboard. The Storm seems to have a better screen, but the Omnia screen isn't bad, so I think I can probably live with it.

Both report fairly major problems of "stickiness," lag when moving from screen to screen or opening apps, which is incredibly disappointing, as I see myself throwing a very expensive piece of hardware against a wall when faced with such lag. I guess I should just make sure I get accident/breakage insurance.

Every phone's interface is where each falls sorely short of the iPhone. The iPhone's flow is just so tasty and quick, and this alone means there is no such thing as an iPhone killer out there right now. Argh.

The Omnia does have a 5MP camera with video, so these two features beat out the iPhone in those categories.

The Omnia also sports 3G and EV-DO as well as Wi-fi. Very nice.

The Verizon phones also have removable memory media (microSD), which is extremely convenient and sorely lacking on the iPhone.

The Omnia can only sport GPS via VZNavigator, which costs an extra $9.99 a month, so that sucks, but this would be the case with any phone on Verizon (bastards). I'm wondering if there's a hack out there somewhere.

I like what I've seen of the features and interface on the HTC Touch Pro, but the hardware itself is pretty clunky. It had been at the forefront of my list, due solely to the dedicated actual keyboard, but that's slowly fading into the background. Size (or lack thereof) is becoming more important the more I really think about actually carrying this thing around.

I saw a couple weeks ago that someone had Android running on the HTC Touch, but they couldn't get the phone itself working with the platform. So while it was fun to watch someone navigate with Android, what good is a phone that you can't actually, um, call someone with?

So... I need to go use an Omnia.  It seems to be the current winner in the "I can't switch to AT&T" phone universe.  Hopefully it won't fall sorely short of the sexy-sexy that is iPhone.  I'll let you know what I find.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prevent Programs from Stealing Focus in WinXP

How many times has this happened to you: you're typing furiously and out of the corner of your eye you see an alert box from somewhere pop up and disappear. Because you were in the middle of madly hitting keyboard keys, you've accidentally ok'd, denied, or "something else'd" a request or alert from some program, and you have no idea of figuring out what just happened.


Well, I finally had enough and sought out the solution to this problem. Here it is (you'll be editing your registry, be careful not to screw up your computer):
  1. Click on Start and then Run.

  2. Type regedit and click OK.

  3. Locate the HKEY_CURRENT_USER and click on it to expand the folder.

  4. Continue to expand folders until you reach the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel registry key.

  5. Select the Desktop key under Control Panel.

  6. On the right-hand side of the screen, locate and double-click on the ForegroundLockTimeout DWORD.

  7. In the Edit DWORD Value window, set the value data: field to 30d40.

    Note: Be sure the Base option is set to hexadecimal when entering the DWORD value. If you'd prefer to use "decimal," set the value to 200000.

  8. Click OK and then close Registry Editor.

  9. Reboot your PC.

  10. Reclaim control of your PC's pop-up alerts!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grammy... nomination concert? WTF?

As if the Grammy's aren't bad enough, last night they televised a Grammy Nomination Concert. Are you freaking kidding me?

And while I appreciated the humor in the Foo Fighters singing Carly Simon's "Your So Vain" (I looked it up on You Tube) it still sucked. Can you say "lackluster?"

And on top of all this, they aired the damn show during the only program we watch fairly religiously (Criminal Minds... you just gotta love Reed!). We'd been making fun of the Grammy Nomination Concert ads all week, but then when we turned on the t.v. to watch our show and found out that's when Garbagio Fantastico was airing... it was enough to make me gouge my eyes out.

Luckily I have regenerative powers like a Cheerleader.

p.s. Live DBi3 show at The Laughing Goat tonight in Boulder (17th and Pearl, 8pm, no cover). Drew Brightbill will be joining me on stage. Be there or be square! ...or something.