Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Blackjack WM6 Update - Problems?

I upgraded my Samsung Blackjack phone to Windows Mobile 6 last week,and on balance, I really like the new OS.  Pocket Outlook, in particular, is a huge improvement over the WM5 version.  But after using WM6 for a week, I've noticed a few things I am not quite happy about:

  • About 3 times a day, the buttons on the phone stop working.  I can't even turn the phone off with the power button!  At this point, all I can do is pop out the battery and hard cycle the phone.
  • Battery life seems to be much shorter than with WM5.  I think I have all the "auto update" features turned off again after the update, but its possible I've missed something new.
  • Reception is lousy!!  I can't imagine how software would affect the radio reception levels, other than lower battery life means less power for the radio... 

I've talked to a few folks at work who upgraded and have had some of these issues, but not all (I guess I'm the only person with the button problem so far).  I'm not sorry I upgraded, yet... we'll see if Samsung's tech support can do anything about it.

Eco Geeking at Home

Since we bought our house last year, a 40 year old "Leave It To Beaver" traditional house, we've made quite a few updates to help green it up.  To date, we've made the following eco-friendly updates:

  • Removed all the old asbestos-laden popcorn ceilings
  • Replaced all ceiling-mounted light fixtures with fluorescent fixtures that look like they belong in a home, not a mall
  • Replaced all incandescent bulbs inside and outside the house with compact fluorescent bulbs
  • Added 14" of cellulose-based insulation to the attic
  • Converted the log fireplace to a ventless gas insert (99% efficient!)
  • Installed EnergyStar washer and dryer units
  • Replaced weather stripping in strategic places around doors and windows & caulked where necessary
  • Started composting and got really serious about recylcing everything we can, reducing our garbage output by ~20%

Of course, there's a LOT more I would like to do.  When our water heater dies, I'll replace it with a tankless heater.  For example, we're still cooking with electric heat and really should change to gas.  The windows all need to be replaced, and our fridge probably uses as much energy as your local industrial park... but all in good time. 

Monday, January 28, 2008

The real cost of bottled water - National -

Things that make you go "Hmm..."  Yup, it's a sick obsession we have in the United States.  I hadn't really thought about how it costs a LOT more than gas, but they're SO right!  I think we'd all be better off buying water filters, purifiers and storage to get rid of the nasties we think we're saving ourselves from by buying bottled water.  

Link:  The real cost of bottled water - National -

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Windows Mobile 6 Upgrade for the Blackjack is released!

I just saw the announcement on  I'm about to start the install... we'll see what happens!  Will i end up with a brick, a shiny new OS, or a buggy POS like the old Dell Axim X50v WM5 upgrade from a couple of years ago?

I can't believe the upgrade software doesn't work with Vista.  It's been out for over a year folks!  You have no excuse!


.. and I'm stuck at installing the Samsung Modem drivers.  I've tried on 2 Windows XP machines with no luck.  I'm going to scour the AT&T forums to see if anyone has already figured out how to get past this issue...

Success!  I finally tried re-downloading the modem drivers, and they installed correctly on my very old Toshiba laptop.  So I'm in the process of reloading my applications, updating to Office Mobile 6.1, etc.  So far, I can say it's great to finally have WM6! 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Viigo - Never Leave Home Without It

I've been using Viigo on my Blackjack phone lately, and it has far surpassed my expectations as a newsreader.  It has a few flaws, which I'll get into later, but for a free app, this is top notch and makes my "must have" list for anyone with a Windows Mobile device and a data plan.

One thing I really like about Viigo is its huge list of feeds to choose from.  Of course, you can add your own custom URLs, but typing those long cryptic feed URLs on the Blackjack keypad is extremely cumbersome and error prone.  Viigo breaks down their list of available feeds by categories covering a wide range of popular to esoteric topics.

Virtual Reach, the makers of Viigo, just secured its first round of venture capital, so I'm sure we can look forward to more great features in the near future!  It's probably naive to think they'll keep it free and ad-free, but we can always hope!

The minor gripes I have are that some times it seems to forget which feeds you've read and marks previously read stories as new.  My other complaint is that it always seems to be pinging the Viigo server.  This isn't such a problem with an unlimited data plan if you have good coverage, but in those dead spots, the constant error messages get really annoying.

As I continue to use Viigo, I'll post any more thoughts/tips/tricks I discover.  In the meantime, if you haven't tried it yourself, I highly recommend grabbing the free download and trying it today.