This week has been full of ups and downs as I have been fighting a cold or whatever crud I have. It makes me go from "full speed ahead" to feeling wiped out in a span of just minutes which makes working difficult. This week the tech news has been filled with the imminent arrival of the Blackberry Storm and one crossed the portal at Mobile Tech Manor for evaluation. This led to a 12 hour marathon review session that included shooting a couple of videos in addition to writing a quick review. A very busy week so come on in and we’ll talk about it.
The creepy crud
I have been fighting this cold or sinus infection or whatever it is for a couple of weeks now and it’s kicking my butt. It’s one of those cruds that can have me feeling human and within 30 minutes feel totally wiped out and exhausted. Hopefully my body will start fighting back soon and kick this out of my system. It makes working difficult when you never know how you’ll feel in advance. This column will no doubt be shorter than most as a result.
This week the WaWa showed up (finally) and I’m happily sipping a cup of it right now. Kevin has touted the virtues of WaWa coffee for years and when we tried it in Pennsylvania on the famous wedding trip we were hooked. We brought a single bag back with us but we went through that quickly. I ordered some online at the WaWa store and it finally showed up this week. It’s hard to describe why WaWa coffee is so good, if you like drip coffee you’ll probably really like WaWa. Just order yourself some and try it but don’t blame me if you get hooked on it. Blame Kevin.
The main gadget in MTM this week is certainly the Blackberry Storm from Verizon. It’s been dominating the tech news this week because let’s face it, a Blackberry without a keyboard is breaking new ground. RIM compensates for the lack of a physical keypad or keyboard with the innovative SurePress on-screen keyboards and whether an individual will like it depends. On-screen keyboards are not as good as real ones but the key is if the on-screen keyboard is good enough for daily use. I have been using it for three days now and I am more than happy with the Storm keyboards. It’s not as good as a real keyboard but miles ahead of every other on-screen keyboard that’s come before. I find I am typing longer more detailed emails on this keyboard because it’s easy for me to use and that’s important.
What makes the Storm work so well for me is that it is a Blackberry at its core. The reputation RIM has for making messaging powerhouses is well-deserved and the Storm is as good as any other Blackberry in this respect. What prospective customers have to decide is if the lack of a keyboard is a deal-breaker for them. What it comes down to is if you think you will do a lot of web surfing on the phone then having a larger high-res screen is valuable, just like on the iPhone. That scenario makes the compromise on the keyboard to be worth it for me as I do a lot of web work. If you don’t do a lot of web surfing then you’ll probably be better off with the Blackberry Bold, which is a really sweet Blackberry.
The Mophie Juice Pack 3G showed up this week thanks to Matt Miller who sent it over. I have been using it a lot and find it to be a decent extended battery solution for the iPhone. It’s almost like it’s not there when connected to the iPhone, well except for the added bulk and weight. It still fits in the hand comfortably and makes the iPhone run for a very long time. It charges the iPhone while it’s in the Mophie so when you run the Mophie down you can pop the iPhone out of it and have a full battery. This is a great benefit to travelers who need extended run-time between charges.
I have played a lot with several programs and utilities this week and they are rapidly becoming a part of my tool kit. I have been using Open Office on the MacBook a lot and I’m getting more impressed with it the more I use it. I have mostly been working with existing Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and it’s doing a fine job with those. It’s free so trying it couldn’t be easier if you’re curious.
The two utilities that have impacted my work for the better are simple ones each that do one thing and do it so well that they are a boon to my work. The first is the NumberKey for the iPhone which turns the phone into a wireless 10-key number pad. It wasn’t free but I gladly paid the few dollars for it and I’m using this almost daily. I don’t do so often but when I have to do a lot of number entry on the Macs I always really missed having a 10-key pad. NumberKey is not quite the real thing but I find entering numbers on the iPhone’s screen to be better than using the number row on the keyboard. It didn’t take me long to get used to it and I am using the heck out of it.
The other utility I am using the whole time I am working at my desk and it’s made a huge difference to my productivity. To understand why you have to visualize my workspace. On the desk in front of me I have the 17-inch MacBook Pro on the left and next to it on the right the new MacBook. They are both on all day and immediately below them is a keyboard tray that slides out of the desk with an Apple wireless keyboard and mouse on it. I have always used it on the MBP and do all of my writing on that keyboard while at the desk.
I have never hooked up a mouse to the new MacBook because I like using the multi-touch trackpad but given where it sits on the desk that has been a bit awkward to reach up and over to move the cursor around the screen. That keyboard is too far away to do more than simple typing when needed and that has restricted me a bit. The free utiility that Kevin found this week (thanks Kevin!), Teleport, installs on both MacBooks and then wirelessly shares the wireless keyboard and mouse between the two Macs. It works so seamlessly and without lag that it’s almost as if the MacBooks have become a single two screen beast. I use the mouse to move the cursor to the right of the MBP screen and it instantly is picked up by the MB on the right. It has increased my productivty because now I can use either of the Macs to write stuff since the keyboard is shared too and it’s been great. A side benefit to using Teleport, and a major one, is how I can drag and drop files between the two Macs using the mouse. I am using this all the freaking time because it’s by far the easiest way to get files copies across the network. Sterling program.
eBook of the week
This week I have been enjoying a new author and it’s been a good ride so far. The book is Precious Blood by Jonathon Hayes and it’s about a serial killer. Bet you didn’t see that coming. It’s not as good as the Smoky Barrett series I’ve shared recently but it’s not bad.
Going to bed now
I am winding down and getting very tired so I’m going to wrap this up. I hope you enjoy our visits and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about during these weekly trips. Peace out.