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Monday, April 30, 2007

Dell or not to Dell? Microsoft Windows Vista?

Dell has made it really difficult to buy a new computer. That is the simple conclusion that I have come to, based on my recent shopping experience on their site. However, I am really surprised that it is has come to that. I have purchased somewhere in the neighborhood of $20M-25M (yes, million) worth of computer hardware & software over the last 10 years, it is really hard to get me to this point.

You see, I have been thinking about purchasing a new Dell computer for the past few weeks. Nothing against my Dell Dimension 2400, but the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 processor simply is not cutting it anymore. Over the weekend, I think I spent more time waiting for Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE 7) to render and load web pages which the processor sat at 100%. (No spyware, the machine is clean) And, if I am going to keep up with my blogs, I cannot allow that to continue. :-)

In addition, this morning I received a "See how much you can save with surprise coupons worth up to 30% on select systems." coupon in my inbox as many people did. It is also known as the Small Business "Mystery coupon" by some. The really had me considering purchasing a Dell right there and then. After spending 45 minutes trying to configure a decent system, I abandoned my shopping cart and decided against the $600 purchase. Let's not add to the confusion that you might receive a 20%, 25%, or 30% off coupon AND that in some cases the 20% off coupon was less than the discount already offered by the site!

Truth be told, it should not be this difficult. By no means am I a first time Dell user. Of the 10-15 computers I have personally owned (not to mention the 20-25 work machines I have had), most have either been Dell (Desktops) or Toshiba (laptops). Only recently have I forayed into the IBM world, and I am relatively happy with my T60. In fact, both of my recent Digital Camera purchases -- the Canon G7 and the PowerShot SD800 IS came from the Dell store.

In terms of the problem is that there is choice, and then there is too much choice. Dell has pretty much overloaded the user when they want to visit their site and purchase a new machine. Furthermore, it has -- with the recent coupon frenzy -- become too difficult to determine whether you receive good or equivalent value. It almost borders on the purchasing a new car.

Here is where I ran into the biggest issues that Dell should be solving during the configuration process.

  1. Which processor is right for me? There is AMD Athlon 64, AMD 64 X2 Dual Core, Intel Pentium D, and Intel Core 2 Duo. What are the benchmarks and how do the varying processors with similar pricing compare at simple tasks?
  2. What does processor speed mean? What difference can I expect to between a 1.86GHz and 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor? Is it worth the extra $50 and why?
  3. Video cards are a mess. What is the difference between "256MB nVidia Geforce 7300LE TurboCache" and the "256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro"? Yes, the ATI Radeon costs $50 -- but why? What is the advantage.

The bottom line is that Dell needs to quickly clean up their site and provide a little more information in order for buyers to make a decision. I know in my case that they simply did not provide me with the information I needed to make that final decision and complete the purchase. Perhaps I will consider another vendor this time. In any case, I almost took the plunge and finally tried out Windows Vista!

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Lakers Lose Game 4 @ Staples Center, with some help!

The game and our seats for Game 4 of the NBA playoffs series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns was pretty good. I say that with the exception of 3 plays at the beginning of the 4th quater -- it was a pretty good game. (more on the below)

Overall, we had a pretty good time and were happy to finally attend a Lakers playoff game. While we had tickets last year, we happened to be on vacation in Germany -- so we missed out on two great games at Staples Center.

The main issue I had is that Kobe Bryant took very few shots from the outside in the 4th quarter. Everyone seemed to beg him to launch a "3", but he continued to pass it to the interior -- even with a 10+ point defecit. Perhaps he wasn't feeling it?

The Lakers interior defense was awful. I cannot tell you how many layups they gave to the Phoenix Suns. To the Lakers credit, the game was at least close through three quarters.

Here are a couple of videos I took at the game:

Los Angeles Lakers Lineups:

Phoenix Suns Lineups:

Here is my rant on the game:

Simply, I do not want to take anything away from the Phoenix Suns. Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash both had monsterous games. What I want to point out that there were a series of 3-plays that changed the nature of the game at the start of the 4th Quarter that altered the game and rather than the lead going down to 6 points, it swelled to 14.

Every team has a couple of calls that go against them in the game. Rarely do they alter the course of the game. In this case, the blown calls by Dan (Danny) Crawford, Ron Garretson, and Tim Donaghy were a travesty to a great game and they should be ashamed of themselves.

In quick, successive order -- the sequence looked like this -- Kobe Bryant, offensive foul call (no foul, even on replay), Kwame Brown offensive foul where he was hacked by Boris Diaw, and then a Boris Diaw 3-point play when Boris was clearly guilty of an offensive foul on a clear out. And just like that, the game went to a 14-point mountain from what should have been a 6-point defecit.

Would the Los Angeles Lakers win the game without these calls? Your guess is good as mine, they still likely could have loss. What is definitely true is that Danny Crawford and the officating crew robbed the fans of a great finish by blowing these three consecutive calls. Of course there were others, but these three impacted the outcome of the game.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Stressing about the Los Angeles Lakers.

No surprises here, I absolutely -- and sometimes blindly -- love the Los Angeles Lakers. That being said, the end of the season was rather painful for those who follow them closely. How bad was it? Well, I think I lost count of how many they lost -- it was something like their last eight out of ten!

After Games 1 & 2 of the first round of the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns, I began to worry that my tickets for Game #4 could be the Laker's last game of the year. What I did not want to happen was my seats in section 106, row 13 go to waste.

So, when Kwame and Lamar decided to play a good Game #3 on Thursday night, things started to look up. Hopefully it will be a fun game! And after parking next to the new "Liberty Grill" on Flower Steet numerous times, we made reservations to check it out. That should be enjoyable as well!

None the less, I received the following MySpace message this morning which echoes the thoughts I was having.

I don't know, Kenny. Game 4 is pivotal...the Suns are going to come out gunning again. I don't know why but I don't have a good feeling about Sunday's game. But hopefully I'm wrong and you watch one heck of a game 4.
Yep, that's exactly what I am hoping for, too!

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Getting Paid by Google!

Today was quite a special day. Why was it so special? I received my first check from Google in the mail, courtesy of the USPS. It was not much, but still it was a check.

As I have spoken about previously on my site, I use Google's AdWords on the right pane to provide context specific ads that hopefully pertain to the articles and your interests. When someone clicks on an ad, both the Advertiser and I benefit from that.

So, while this is not the main thrust of this blog -- to generate revenue from AdWords, it was a nice surprise to see the check show up from Google today. Thanks for all of your support!

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Friday, April 27, 2007

New Version of P2K Commander Available 4.9.A

A new version of the P2K Commander software for your Motorola V3 phone is now available. Recently released is the new version,

Here are the new items in this version:

  • Seem and file editing on-the-fly with xvi32 enhancements
  • After saving data p2k commander will automatically upload it.
  • Scripting: Download seems
  • Smartrefresh bug fixed
  • Can handle new file system (fs) with V3xx /e

Also remember the keyboard accelerators or hot keys:

  • Tab: switch active panel (left/right)
  • Alt-F1 , Alt-F2 : drive select
  • Alt-R : RereadBackspace: goto parentdir
  • F2: set file attributes (p2k filesystem)
  • F3: view file (using lister or if not found, notepad)
  • F4: edit with notepad
  • F5: copy
  • F7: create a directory
  • F8 , Del : delete a file
  • F9: restart p2k phone
  • F10: exit
  • Press starting letter to jump a file.

You can get it here: 02-Apr-2007 02:04 140k

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Update: Thieves on a Plane - United Airlines

Well, I have good news -- I finally heard back from United Airlines regarding my Thieves on a Plane incident back on April 16th. If you recall, I had $200 and a pair of Oakley (sigh) sunglasses stolen from my seat on the flight. Shortly afterwards, I submitted a web request to them explaining the incident. Finally, after a second submission and over a week from the first request, I received a response from United Airlines.

This is the text that United included in their response:

Mr. Hanscom, I do apologize for the inconvenience caused you as a result of your missing $200 from your wallet and a pair of Oakley sunglasses. And I'd like to explain the process concerning lost items on United, United Express and Ted or in United gate areas: File a loss report with our Baggage Service office upon arrival. If you've already left the airport, you may file your report by phone. Please call United reservations (in the U.S. 1-800-864-8331) to obtain the phone number of the appropriate airport's baggage office. If lost items are given to our staff we will keep them in the airport's Baggage Service office for a minimum of 14 days. We check items for the owner's name and address and try to reunite an item and its owner. Our staff will only contact you if your item has been found. Please understand that United's liability for a customer's missing articles covers items included only in checked luggage on all domestic routes and unchecked luggage on international flights.

The good news is that United was apologetic in terms of my experience and what happened on the flight. The bad news is that they completely misunderstood what I complaining about, or it just was a form response with my complaint mixed in. I replied to clarify to United that the items were stolen from me on the plane, and not from my baggage that was checked.

Still, the even better news is that United offered a $200 travel voucher as a courtesy for the bad experience. That left me appreciative, and somewhat lessens the sting of the incident sans the loss of the Oakleys. It would have been even better had they understood the nature of the initial complaint.

I wonder if they will respond to the other email....

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Audi A4 2.0T B7 ECU Upgrade Completed!

Today (Monday) was one successful day for the 2006 Audi 2.0T (B7) car. I had the great pleasure of taking it down to the Neuspeed offices in the Camarillo, CA to have the ECU / Engine Management upgrade put into my Audi A4.

I showed up to the Neuspeed facility at my appointment time and was a little surprised at the parking lot in front of the showroom at Neuspeed. It was virtually empty. Then again, this was in the middle of the day on a Monday – not sure how many folks are out having their cars tuned. Very quickly I was helped and they pulled my car around to the bay to have the engine management software upgraded.

While I was in the showroom, I ran into another Audi enthusiast out from Colorado that was having an ECU upgrade performed on his Audi A6 4.2 as well as having the exhaust worked on. He had been waiting for some time just for this trip out to Los Angeles.

Once my car was pulled around, I was able to watch from outside the bay (insurance reasons) while the work was done. I had the opportunity to chat it up a little with Aaron Neumann, who has appeared in numerous magazines with his various creations from Neuspeed. Aaron actually performed the installation on my Audi.

On that note, I really enjoyed the conversation with Aaron. Aaron took the time to explain the value of the Neuspeed upgrades and why in his opinion it was the best choice on the market. After the conversation, I was extremely glad for my choice with Neuspeed. He also mentioned, that while there were a lot of various upgrades that could be done to my car – until a K04 turbo became available at a reasonable price – to just stick with the ECU / Engine Management Upgrade on the 2006 Audi A4 2.0T B7.

After a couple of hours, everything was success. On the way out, the showroom guy mentioned – now the car is the way it should have come. I could not have agreed more.

How does it perform? You’ll have to see in an upcoming article. Let’s just say I am pretty happy with the price and performance.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

United Airlines: Thieves on a Plane

One thing about traveling, it does give you an awful lot to write about. And in my case, I have been traveling quite a bit the past month or so. So far this month, I count 10 days that I have taken a flight on United Airlines (UAL) to somewhere in this great nation. This post is about one of those trips – on a recent flight to Milwaukee, WI (MKE) through Chicago O’Hare (ORD).

Last Monday, April 16th started off relatively normal. I went by the Bank of America ATM to get some cash for the trip on my way to the airport. Eventually, I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) with a little over an hour to spare since I planned on checking my bags. Relatively relaxing compared with my recent trip to Las Vegas.

I boarded the plane and went through my normal pre-flight routine which included getting my Sony MDR-NC6 noise cancelling headphones (to be replaced), my Sony Playstation Portable (PSP), and place my personal effects (Blackberry 8800, wallet, & sunglasses) in the back of the seat pocket. The flight went off without a hitch with nothing worth mentioning.

However, as we approached Chicago I noticed we were a little behind schedule and given the tight connection time 3 concourses over to catch my flight to Milwaukee. So, as we taxied to the jetway, I quickly put all of my stuff back into my laptop backpack.

Or, so I thought. One of my biggest fears in flying is that I will be stranded somewhere without any money, identification, or plastic – even more so in a place I had never been or do not know people. As I was running to my connecting flight, at some point, I realized that the back section of my backpack was open. A quick check and my heart almost stopped. My wallet was gone.

Here I was, in the middle of Chicago O’Hare airport and I had to make a choice. Do I risk missing my flight and re-trace my steps to the concourse where my flight landed? Or, do I just consider it a loss and try to negotiate my way through Milwaukee to get to my hotel and have some replacements FedEx’d to me.

I decided to run back and trace my steps with the outside hope that I might find my wallet, especially since oddly I did not remember putting it back in my backpack. Could I have left it in the seat on the plane? Very possible.

So, I ran about a half mile back the same path I originally came scanning the entire area the whole way in case it did fall out of my bag. No luck. Once I reached Concourse C, there was no information on the boards on the jets that had just come from Los Angeles. Where was my plane? After a couple of minutes, I located a gate that had a 757 sitting at it that looked like what I remembered when I stepped off.

There was a line at the counter and no United Airlines agent could be accessed, except for one working on paper. He was not really keen on helping me. I basically had to ask him three times – “Will you please help me?” before he would even lift a finger, even after I mentioned I was a Premier Executive member. After that, he suggested I get in line and I finally said I will miss my next flight if I do so, and I did not have a wallet or any other identification other than my company badge. Finally, he listened.

After speaking with the other United Airlines agent, he confirmed that it was United Airlines Flight 942 from Los Angeles and offered to go on board and check as long as I still had my original boarding pass. He returned in two minutes with my wallet only, and mysteriously missing the $200 cash I had just picked up at the ATM. I asked him about that and my sunglasses, he only shrugged his shoulders.

Normally, I would have spent more time arguing with him and ask for a report to be filed – however, I was so happy to have my identification and all credit cards back, plus I only had 10 minutes to make it to my next flight. So, I let it go.

I sent a note to United Airlines the next day to complain about the incident, but I still have not received any response back. Here we are, six days since I submitted the request and nothing has been responded to. I think as time goes on, I become a little more frustrated in the incident and how it transpired. At least the biggest lesson learned here is to make sure and hold onto that wallet a little more carefully!

I want to stop short of accusing United Airlines employees of theft or stealing from me in this matter. However, the nonchalant attitudes of the United Airlines service personnel in the matter leave me wondering. Of course, another passenger could have seen the wallet and taken the cash and glasses. However, that seem rather unlikely to me since the wallet was in the seatback and relatively hidden from any view. It will be interesting to see if and how United responds.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Is your Playstation 3 collecting dust?

Is your Playstation 3 (PS3) collecting dust? Mine is. In fact, I have not turned it on in over two months. I am not yet ready to call it a piece of junk, but it has become rather useless for me. Hopefully that will change in the coming months.

It is not entirely the Playstation 3's (PS3) fault, rather it is Sony. The availability of games since the launch has been somewhat atrocious. In fact, I have not seen a game come out in the last 60 days that was even close to plopping down the $60 for. However, it looks like that will change in the next month with the release of Rainbow Six, FEAR. It really gets a little more attractive once Gran Turismo HD comes out. That is still a ways out though.

Further, I have really been playing my Nintendo Wii. For most games, and most recently Tiger Wood's 2007 by EA Sport -- the game play is much better -- and honestly more fun than with the PS3. Nintendo is our way ahead of Sony on the game play. If Sony does not get more and better games out there soon, there's no turning back.

Maybe I will just sell the PS3. Otherwise, it makes me sad to see the red light on the PS3 and watch it depreciate in front of my eyes.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Audi A4 ECU Upgrade Update

Finally, I am back in the saddle. It has been a couple of long weeks of buisness travel, and some things have to fall to the wayside. However, I am now back and have good news. Finally, having just completed the 15,000 mile service on my 2006 Audi A4 2.0T (B7) front-track, I am taking the next step to get my car "chipped'. In fact, I have an appointment on Monday afternoon at the Neuspeed headquarters in Camarillo, CA to have the ECU upgrade or chip put into my Audi A4!

As I mentioned, in my previous post comparing a few of the manufacturers, it was a difficult decision as to who is in the mix. The manufacturers I considered were:

  1. Neuspeed
  2. Revo Technik
  3. APR
  4. GIAC

It was a pretty difficult decision as to who toen trust my Audi A4 to perform the software upgrade. In the end, a combination of the performance and reputation of Neuspeed in my area of Southern California really won out over the other manufacturers. They really work closer with the combination of my dealership to provide the best overall service and performance. It is not necessarily a knock against the other providers -- just the facts in my area.

This will be the first of a couple of modifications that I will be looking at for my Audi A4. The only thing that preserves my desire to get more aggressive is the fact that I did not end up with the Quattro car. However, we'll save that for my next Audi -- after the next generation of A4's come out in the next year!

I will be reporting back Monday hopefully with pictures and first impressions of the ECU / Engine Mangement upgrade from Neuspeed!

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Some days are not meant for traveling...

I have now come to the conclusion that you should just not be traveling. In fact let's my experience on today, Monday, April 16th for instance. Right from the beginning, I should have known today was going to be one of those days.

At least I got to the airport on time, that recently has been a problem for me. And, it even included a stop by the ATM. From there, it was pretty much downhill.

First issue, that did not turn out too bad was that when I stepped onto the shuttle at the Parking Spot on Sepulveda Blvd, I took my key from my car with me. Not normally a bad thing, of course unless you gave your car to the valet. I did catch it quick enough to put the key back into the car.

Then, at the end of my connecting flight to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) on the way to Milwaukee, WI (MKE) on United Airlines -- $200 and my sunglasses were stolen. I guess the trip to the ATM this morning was pointless. This experience required more detail, so you can read about that here.

And it continued. My flight to Milwaukee was delayed boarding by 30 minutes due to a security breach at concourse F. That left a ton of police cars, police dogs, and officers wandering the jetways.

Just when you thought it could not get any worse, yep -- you guessed it. My luggage did not show up in Milwaukee with my flight on United Express by Skywest. This one honestly could have been worse, at least it was only delayed by an hour. But, I was so ready to head to my hotel.

Then, finally -- I ended up with a not-so-great room at the Hilton in Milwaukee River Park. Right across from the elevator, and despite my Hilton HHonors preference to be on a floor, far away from the elevator.

You get the picture -- it could have been worse!

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ordered Sennheiser PXC300 Noise Canceling Headphones Today

Today, I finally decided to purchase a new pair of noise cancelling headphones. They are something I had been considering for quite awhile and my recently frequent travel schedule convinced me to dive in and make the purchase.

This will be my second set of noise cancelling headphones, having most recently used the Sony MDR-NC6 set of headphones that my sister and brother-in-law bought for me last year. They were a great started set of noise cancellers, and kept me sane on the many flights to India that I had. Recently, however -- I wanted to consider some newer headphones with improved sound quality.

I spent quite a bit of time researching the various products sites out there, and then really ended up focusing on the CNET reviews. As everyone knows from any airplane magazine you read out there, the QuietComfort 2 and QuietComfort 3 headphones are the "standard" when it comes to Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. However, I have never been a fan of Bose, and was not willing to fork over the $350+ that they cost.

Instead, I ended up zeroing in on the Sennheiser PXC300 headphones today based on the reviews from the sites I read. In addition, Tiger Direct had the headphones on special for $134.99, where CDW, PC Mall, and others had them still at the $199 price point.

I am somewhat anxious to receive and try them out. Too bad that I will not have them for this week's trip to Milwaukee, WI and San Jose, CA!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blackberry 8800 – Short Menus, I Hate Them!

Probably only one of two things that I do not like on my Blackberry 8800 device is the use of the short menus when you click down on the trackball. The other thing I do not like is the Push-To-Talk button. However, I really do no not like the short menus that the trackball produces – in fact, I hate them!

Why? Because they almost never have the shortcuts that I am looking for when I click on the trackball. Perhaps this is a hold-over from my years of using the click-wheel. But, I do expect that when I push the trackball down, effectively clicking it – that I had the options available to me that I use the most. What I am finding with 8800 is that they very often are not – and that I have to end up using the menu key to get the options I am looking for.

It just kills the efficiency a little. I had recently looked for options to add or modify these shortcut menus, but there does not appear to be an easy way to do it. Have you figured out how to modify the shortcut menus or do they give you similar fits? If so, let me know below!

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Blackberry 8800 – The Click-Wheel, Do You Miss It?

My very first impression of my new Blackberry 8800 was that I was really going to miss the wheel on the side of the device. In fact over the last 5 years, I had really become a champion of the wheel and how it allowed you to look at and scroll through messages with only a single hand. Using the trackball it seemed that I would always have two hands on the device which would limit my ability to multi-task while in the car (bad idea), in the airport security lines, or other places where I would be waiting around.

I thought the designers at RIM had made a huge mistake and a critical design flaw by replacing the click-wheel with a trackball and a menu key.

However, now after using the 8800 for a few weeks I no longer long for the click-wheel or really miss it. While there are times where it would come in handy, most of the time, the use of the trackball and menu functions operate more quickly and efficiently that frantically scrolling your click wheel. Very quickly, like any change – you get very used to it.

Is the trackball better than the click-wheel? I am not sure if I would go that far yet. However, I do not really miss it or notice that it takes me longer to do any of the tasks that I perform 100’s of times a day on the device. Just a lesson that if you were considering the click-wheel replacement as a barrier to the getting the new 8800, then you should think about upgrading. I do not think you will miss the click-wheel!

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Blackberry 8800 – Extended Life Battery

One of the major new selling features of the Blackberry 8800 series from Cingular Wireless (the new AT&T) is the fact that it included a new “Extended Life” battery. This new battery, included with the device could keep you up and running for long periods of time, even while you were without your in-wall or USB cable charger. From my recent experiences with my Blackberry 8700C device, this was a welcome addition – assuming it delivered on the promise.

You see, with my 8700C, I could rarely make it more than 24 hours without having to charging the phone between the usage of the phone, the email, and also the instant messaging. In many cases, I frequently had to turn off any instant messaging programs that I was running (Google Talk, Enterprise Messenger, etc) so that the battery would make it over the weekend or when I was traveling. The question was, how will the Blackberry 8800 compare to it?

Now that I have had my Blackberry 8800 in use for several weeks, I am happy to report that the Extended Life battery is truly extends the useful life of the device. I have yet to run the battery all the way out and I have left all my data and voice services in play, even on two and three day trips. In fact, the device has not gone below 50% remaining on the battery life, and I even continue to use the Blackberry 8800 as a wireless modem when I am traveling. Before with the 8700c, I would have been lucky to get 12 hours out of the battery.

So, if you are in great need of a longer lasting battery and not having to always have your Blackberry device connected to your computer via USB – it is another great reason to choose the Blackberry 8800. The extended battery life will really reduce the chances you have of being stranded!

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blackberry 8800 – Keyboard Complaints, Stop Them!

In my blog and review searches on people’s usage of the Blackberry 8800 series – people were commonly complaining about the new keyboard on the device. I am here to tell them to stop their complaining as their complaints are unfounded!

What you will find if you do some of the same searches is that the keyboard was considered by many to be too compact, too slippery, or too raised. The users preferred their “old” keyboard from a previous 7200, 7700, or 8700 series Blackberry phone and believed that the new keys themselves would prevent them from typing as efficiently as they had before. After using my Blackberry 8800 series for a number of weeks – I would suggest that these writers were giving first impressions rather than speaking from experience.

The reason I suggest this is that I am finding that I am able to type significantly faster on the new device than I had been able to on my previous generations. And I have owned a lot of generations of Blackberry devices including the 957, the 7280, the 7780, and 8700 series of phone & cellular devices. What is faster, I am guessing I am typing in the 30-35 words per minute range on the device and that I was previously only typing in the 20-25 word per minute range.

Just like anything else, a slightly new layout takes a little more time to get used to. While at first I fumbled a little more over the new keys that did not last long. Within the first couple of days, I found that my fingers learned the feel of the keys much better and I could even look at the keys less while I typed. Soon enough, my speed and accuracy increased well beyond what it had been before.

That is good news because it means more messages gone through in a shorter period of time. Not only does that help me get on to other important items, but it also helps to increase the battery life!

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Audi A4 B7 Report - 15,000 Mile Service

Today, I took my B7 Audi A4 2.0T 6-speed Front-Track in for its 15,000 mile service. Nothing that I noticed was going wrong with it, but since it was scheduled I took it in. Interestingly, the Audi only requires service every 10,000 miles vs. the 3,000 or 5,000 miles that some other manufacturers require.

A couple of notes about the service.

The first, is a little bit of an annoyance. While the service at 15,000 miles is free -- but, rotating the tires are not since Audi does not "manufacture" tires. Pretty annoying that they hit you up for $25 to rotate the tires that came with the car. Seems a little nit-picky for a luxury brand.

The other, is a plus. Apparently, there was an ECU engine management upgrade put out by Audi as part of standard maintenance. The technicians at Audi service for Rusnak Westlake put it in for me.

For those who are interested, it was considered an I3 Reflash, to I31B .70. What I noticed immediately was the flash fixed the direct drive lag that I had been noticing in first gear, as the throttle to a few seconds to respond. Other than that, not sure if there was much additional improvement noticed in acceleration or mileage performance.

Still, the news is all good on my Audi A4 2.0T 6-speed. It's been a perfect, problem free car -- not to mention one of (if not the) the safest vehicles in America as rated by the IIHS. If you are considering an Audi A4 2.0T, I highly recommend it!

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Blackberry 8800 Multi-Media Player, Strike Two!

In a recent post, I mentioned my feeble attempt to use my Blackberry 8800 as a replacement for my Apple iPod on a trip to Las Vegas. That short-lived attempt failed because of the differences in connector sizes.

Over the past weekend, I made a quick visit to my Fry's Electronics to pick up an adpater to convert the 3.5mm connector on my noise cancelling headphones to the 2.5mm connetor for the Blackberry. After a few minutes of searching, we found the adapter for the great price of $1.99. The associate that helped us find it mentioned that these had recently become very popular, so we were confident that it would work.

So, once again on a trip up to San Jose -- I left my iPod behind to try and determine whether the great Blackberry 8800 device and truly replace it. Shortly after takeoff on the plane, I pulled out the Blackberry and connected everything together. No sound came from the headphones. Checked all the connections again and retried. No sound.

Oops, looks like this was strike two -- I need to go back to the drawing board for the Blackberry 8800. I have a couple more trips next week and hopefully can get this resolved!

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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bi-Monthly Update for April

As part of keeping everyone updated with the happenings here at, I will be publishing a bi-monthly update on the site – the reason for bi-monthly is that it will be a challenge to even keep up with it at that frequency! The update is to include several informational items, including statistics and changes to the site.

Here is the list of the changes since the last time I published an update:

  • Modified the template to have a 3-column template
  • Added a tag cloud to better track the frequency and types of posts
  • Enhanced search to allow you to search both this site and all of Google
  • “Read More” functionality to enable you to get an overview of each post on the main an search screens without having to read every single article.
More importantly, here are the statistics since the update. In a word, the changes in traffic over the last two months are both impressive and overwhelming. For the month of January, the SomeLifeBlog received a total of 2951 visits. However, for March that number jumped all the way up to 30,984 – an increase of over 1000%, wow!

On the referral front, Google still dominates the visits to the site, accounting for over 75% of the total visits continues to be a problem, as the site still has not included my listing in their directory for personal home pages with absolutely zero updates. That may account for the real lack of performance from Yahoo or other search engines. I could go on a rant here why Microsoft and Yahoo! continue to loose ground in the search game, but I won't. For now.

February had a total of 46 posts, and there were 66 posts in March. Thus far, April is not off to the greatest start – this is my first post that I am writing here on April 7th. But hey, I’ve been a little busy. :-)

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