Well, my Tungsten C is back to life. Following the events of the March 1st post and the purchase of the subsequent replacement, my wife and I began to discuss what to do with the corpse of the T|C. We considered chucking it or selling it for parts on eBay, but ideally it would make a nice hand-me-down replacement for the IIIc she inherited from me when we bought this one… assuming we could get it repaired, of course. Sadly, this thing has been out of warranty for a couple years, and at this point Palm asks for $169 up front just to look at it (not counting any parts, labor, or shipping thereafter).
Since I got the LifeDrive, I’ve become mildly active on Brighthand’s LD forum. These are linked to from Palm’s own site, so I thought it would be a somewhat official place to dig for feedback and peer support if needed. After browsing the forum a while, I began to wander Brighthand proper and eventually landed at the “In Praise of Older Handhelds” article from December. While a good read in and of itself, it was the following that caught my attention most:
Sadly, electronics don’t last forever, and handhelds live far more hazardous lives than, say, your stereo does.
So there you are, living your worst case scenario. You’ve dropped your Clie and broken the screen. What do you do?
Simple. You call Chris Short.
Thanks to a recent article in The Inquirer, he’s quickly become the most famous repairer of broken older handhelds.
I checked out the Inquirer article in question. I followed the links there to Mr. Short’s eBay sales listings and checked out his impressive 100% 2000+ feedback history. Intrigued, I went ahead and bid on one of his Broken Palm Evaluation and Repair Service auctions and subsequently won. I shipped off the T|C with a nice little check for around $100 (for parts, labor, and return shipping) and waited to see what happened.
Sure enough, the T|C returned to us yesterday, good as new. He even took the old screen protector off the broken LCD and either transferred it to or replaced it on the new screen. And it may be my imagination, but he either cleaned the keyboard I spilled orange soda pop on years ago, or the simple act of opening the case must have helped, as several keys on the keyboard that were sticking painfully are now operating as if it were straight out of the box. My wife has already worn the battery down completely playing Sudoku and Bejeweled.
So kudos go out to Mr. Short and his little eBay business. His service comes highly recommended from this handheld geek.
This morning was was my wife’s second ultrasound, and everything is going perfectly. The baby seems to be healthy and all the right bits are in all the right places. In fact, the little squirt was actually a bit active once we woke it up (which consistend of the technician poking on my wife’s belly with the ultrasound head), so we got a pretty good show for our money. So without further ado, here are the next batch of pictures. (The live ultrasound was a lot more interesting than these stills, as the technician went over each major bodily system to make sure everything was okay, but these were the only pictures we were given. I’d love to get my hands on a video, and you can bet I’d have that streaming in every available codec and bitrate.)
First, the baby’s face from the front. If you squint and look at it cross-eyed, you’ll make out all the main features: eyes, nose, mouth, etc. Even little tooth buds are visible.
A bit more of a distance shot, but here’s the baby’s head in profile. The left arm and chest are also visible.
I probably should have zoomed in on this one, but here’s a foot:
And I swear this is my first and only dabbling in child pornography (I solemnly affirm I did not put the cursor in that location; the technician woman did):
I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple weeks now. I wanted to hold off posting about this because I know my family (or at least certain members thereof) read this blog occasionally, and we wanted to surprise everyone back home with this in person before I started blabbing about it to the whole world. So think of it as old news, but new to you.
With the child process continuing to compile (we hope to get to the linking step soon), we realized that both of our current ground transportation vehicles were going to get very tiny very quickly. Our aging Plymouth Neon was getting up along in years, and our Honda Civic Hybrid isn’t exactly spacious either. Stuffing both of us, potential luggage, a squalling munchkin, and all the assorted infant accessories and peripherals into a compact sedan is a nightmarish thought; imagining the potential of doing all that plus books, shirts, dolls, and other goodies for cons is even more boggling. No, it was time to look for something bigger.
Mind you, that’s not a pleasant task for me. I don’t like large vehicles, be they trucks, vans, or–shudder–SUVs. They’re huge, gas-guzzling monstrosities that take up two or three parking spaces each at the grocery store because the soccer moms driving them think they drive just like their little sedans back home and they don’t realize they’re driving something twice as wide. They are said to be safer than smaller cars, but that’s largely because the sedan they collided with was torn to shreds by the behemoth’s bulk (not at all encouraging to the sedan’s occupants). And don’t get me started on the idiots who think four-wheel drive means they can zoom along at 90 MPH in a 65 zone in the pouring rain without the slightest chance of hydroplaning….
Okay, some of my biggest complaints have to do with bad SUV drivers and not the SUVs themselves, but that’s beside the point. 😉 I’ve never been a fan of SUVs, but I had pretty much resigned myself to start considering the remote, faint, infinitesimally small possibility that I’d have to eventually force myself to drive a mini-van or SUV. It was about the only way we’d be able to cram all that stuff into a single mobile platform and still be considered separate living organisms.
Now I’m not one of those guys who would feel immasculated by the thought of driving a mini-van. (I’m a geek, so it’s not what’s under the hood that counts, but how big the hard drive is. 😉 But I’m not really happy with the prospect of putting $50 a week into the bottomless pit of a gas tank of something the size of an Imperial Star Destroyer. With gas prices as they currently are, fuel efficiency is important to me, and I’ll pay a premium now if I have to if it will save me money in the long run.
We’re rather proud of our Civic which, while it hasn’t been getting nearly the media attention as , is pretty much even with it in the area of fuel efficiency. (Having a hybrid is also pretty darn geeky, if I say so myself, but I’ll admit my opinion may be biased.) My parents had a 1985 Accord that lasted all they way through my Junior year of college, so I knew Honda was a name I could trust. The problem is, Honda’s SUVs are just about as thirsty as everyone else’s, and they don’t currently have a hybrid in the pipeline.
However, we had both seen the commercials for Ford’s Escape Hybrid (the ones with Kermit the Frog singing “It’s not Easy being Green”; yes, that’s the sound of my eyes rolling you hear). The idea of a hybrid SUV seemed like an oxymoron to me. However, looking at the specs, it seemed to be pretty impressive. And if you hadn’t guessed from the picture above, we were impressed enough to go into debt for the next few years.
All the marketing aside (you can get all of that you want from the sites linked above), I’ve been pretty impressed with it so far. I haven’t expected it to get the gas mileage of the Honda, but compared to what I’ve seen on comparable sized vehicles it basically sips gas. So far it does about the same as the old Neon did, if not better. Plus it has a definite geek factor to it, although now I’m starting to wonder if I might have more computing power in the driveway than I do in the office. (A hybrid needs a lot more CPU muscle than the average vehicle these days to balance the need between the gasoline and electric engines.)
If I can think of more interesting things to post later about the Escape or hybrids in general, I will. I’m sure over time having a completely hybrid garage will be a unique perspective some folks out there might find interesting. Of course, I don’t have a garage, but hopefully the analogy won’t fall too flat because of that fact.
All you experienced parents out there can relive old memories with this one; those who are sickened by obnoxious new expectant parent gushing might want to skip it.
Last night I got to feel the baby moving around for the first time. At least, I think I did. To be honest, I can’t be entirely sure. We had just turned out the lights and bedded down for the night when my wife told me she felt the baby moving. Of course, she’s only about 16 weeks in so the kid’s still tiny enough to swim laps in there (although the pool’s getting a little more crowded), so you wouldn’t think she’d be able to feel anything. I placed my hand on her belly (she’s just now starting to “show”) and, sure enough, I felt a quick, tiny patter patter patter under my fingertips.
It was such an odd sensation. It was so light of a movement that it was hard to tell if it was actually the baby moving or my own fingers involuntarily twitching. But I’m pretty sure I felt it repeatedly over the course of a couple minutes. I couldn’t help but sport a huge, goofy grin on my face as I rolled over to fall asleep.
The next ultrasound is in a week and a half, and that’s when we’re supposed to find out what gender the baby is.
Well, here it is. Following the events of the previous post, we drove down that night to High Point to pick up the new LifeDrive I ordered via the Web. (The Circuit City in Greensboro didn’t have any in stock, and I wanted to get a replacement ASAP before a business trip to Orlando (which is also why I haven’t posted about this until now.)) I’m not a big Circuit City fan; I’m not sure what it is, but the few times I’ve ventured into one, the sales staff have either been unfriendly, unhelpful, or just plain unavailable. I haven’t had nearly that bad of an experience at a Best Buy, and I’ve gone into one of those ticked off and demanding a refund. I have a completely unscientific theory about a war of primary colors, i.e. Circuit City’s “hot” and “angry” red vs. Best Buy’s soothing and friendly blue, but it’s probably just a cartoonist’s imagination.
Anyway, the LifeDrive. I’ve got to admit, I’m impressed. I’ve heard a few negative comments about it, and there’s some truth behind them. However, this baby has a good bit of power behind it. What boggles the mind to begin with is the whopping 4GB hard drive built into the thing. Palms are markedly different from Windows Mobile devices (aka PocketPC and all those other previous incarnations) in that they typically have much smaller memory requirements, a fact I blame entirely on Microsoft’s ever wasteful memory handling from the desktop down. My old Palm IIIc only had 8MB of RAM and functioned perfectly well on that. However, we’re always looking to cram more and more stuff into our pockets, and I’ll admit there were a few times I had to delete a few things from my Tungsten C’s 64MB to free up space. The LifeDrive also comes with 64MB of RAM, as well as the prerequisite SD slot that can provide you as much hot-swappable extra storage as your wallet can provide. But it’s that 4GB drive that really opens things up. It’s hard to think of anything really worth filling up 4GB of portable space… until you start thinking about multimedia. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Coming from the Tungsten C, I’ve got to admit that the most annoying thing about the LifeDrive is that long pause when opening new apps. The T|C was such a quantum leap in speed from my IIIc, I got use to that virtually instant tap-and-it’s-open response time. The LifeDrive seems to access the hard drive even when opening applications that are supposed to be stored entirely in RAM, which adds a noticeable lag that almost feels like I’ve downgraded back to the IIIc. I had always heard the T|C was the fastest of all the Palm devices, even over later offerings. Of course, after using the LD for about a week, it just proves you can get used to almost anything. I’ve learned to adapt my usage patterns to compensate for the lag and while it’s still noticeable it isn’t quite as annoying. The only app that really hurts from the lag is Laridian’s MyBible; even with the large Bible data files completely in RAM it seems to take a full ten to fifteen seconds to open, versus about two seconds on the T|C. Don’t ask how long it takes when stored on the HD.
That said, everything else about the LD is pretty spiffy. I like the large screen, and Graffiti 2 (which I avoided learning with the T|C’s built-in keyboard) is actually more intuitive than the original Graffiti was. The lock switch is a smart idea, letting you physically disable the buttons and digitizer to keep the device from turning itself on or off accidentally. “Drive mode” lets you turn the LD into a USB external hard drive (both the internal HD and any SD card currently in the slot) even on computers where HotSync isn’t installed. And the WiFi system seems to be better designed than on the T|C (at least it seems to behave better than the T|C did). As I have no Bluetooth devices to connect with, I guess I can’t really comment on that functionality.
However, with that big ol’ drive, you can probably guess that this thing is ideal for portable media. It’s not going to replace any loyal iPod fan’s favorite device, but combined with the pre-installed Pocket Tunes it can become a very capable MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and WMA player. (Hey, that already meets or beats the iPod shuffle and nano.) It also supports some types of video media out of the box, although installing TCPMP lets you run XviD and similarly encoded video. In the picture above, you can see a not-so-great screenshot of Star Wars: Episode III; the poor quality of the photo comes from not using a flash (to prevent glare) and not from the encoded video, which is actually really great. I took the entire Star Wars saga with me to Orlando: all six movies plus the two Clone Wars specials. That made waiting for a greatly delayed return flight a bit more bearable.
Anyhoo, that’s about all I have to say about the LD at the moment. I’m still trying to decide what to do with the T|C. Having it fixed by Palm is going to be expensive ($169 just to open a ticket, before any parts, labor, or shipping), but I’ve found a few places where I can buy the parts I need and have it fixed for under $100. If I can fix it, I’ll probably let my wife have it, as the hand-me-down IIIc’s battery is finally failing. Otherwise, we’ll probably need to buy her another new one for her own use and then sell or give away the T|C. I’ll post some more interesting LD stories if any present themselves.
No, that’s not some sort of funky new graphics program you’re seeing on my Palm. My Tungsten C gave up the ghost last night. It appears to be functioning properly… with the exception of that sickening blob of blackness on the right side of the screen rendering the rest of it unreadable. As far as I can tell, it looks like the LCD was somehow crushed, totally ruining the screen.
I’m not entirely sure when it happened. I know I got to church last night a little before 7PM, and everything was just fine. I was showing off the baby’s heartbeat sound clip I recorded earlier to whoever would listen. We then went out on our visitation assignments (Tuesday is when we perform our FAITH Sunday School visitations). Once we got back, I pulled out the Palm to let the pastor listen to the sound clip, and that’s when I found the crushed screen. I honestly can’t think of anything I could have done in the course of that hour or so that could have possibly damaged it that severely. Trust me, I’ve done far worse to this thing over the years, and it’s bounced back with hardly a twitch.
Fortunately, I synced the Palm earlier in the day to get the baby’s sound clip off, so all my data should be backed up. Hot on the heels of the previous month’s hard drive crash, I’m almost getting technologically paranoid. I have this sudden urge to backup every byte of data from every hard disk, floppy, CD, and DVD onto hardcopies–hardcopies–and bury it in the back yard. I’m just not sure where I’ll get the “rapid” wombats.
I’ve purchased a new Life Drive as a replacement through Circuit City (their prices were actually better than direct from Palm or from my beloved Best Buy). To be honest, I don’t know if this was the best choice or not. I wavered between the Life Drive, the TX, and the Treo 650. Actually, while the Treo was an early favorite, I couldn’t bring myself to purchase a new cell phone while my current el cheapo one is perfectly fine. The Life Drive just had more bells and whistles. We’re picking up the new device tonight and I’ll probably end up posting about it soon enough.