Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008: the year in complaints

Having a son has really cut into my blogging but a weight has hung over my head since I noticed a week or so ago that I actually have 10 subscribers on Google Reader. Instead of writing some long-ass blog entry with detailed, researched complaints, here are some short ones:

  • Treo and Palm in general -- that company is dead. I switched to Blackberry. The incredible stability of the Verizon Blackberry 8830 has been amazing compared to the Treo 600, 650, and 700p I suffered with for four years.
  • Windows Media Center -- I actually still use it but not to record TV. I got an HD DVR from my cable company for $9/mo and there is no way that will ever exceed all the money I spent on Media Center (PC, OTA HD tuner, extender, hard drives, antennas for OTA HD, etc.) and I still only get one HD channel reliably. And the SD cable picture sucked. When my cable company finally switched to digital (e.g. scrambled) cable it was time to choose Media Center or choose against Media Center. I chose against and so far, I miss 30-second skip (have to fast forward through commercials now) but other than that I have a much better picture and much more reliable recordings and behavior.
  • Motorola S9 Bluetooth headphones -- these are cool and I got them with gift certificates so I'm not, like, burning with anger at these flaws, but I'm hard pressed to find situations in which the music stream doesn't skip. And, Blackberry's media player won't play audio through the S9 when playing a video, which was a huge disappointment (I was hoping to stop using the iPod and to just use these on my BB to watch videos). And, the iPod connector thing is so flaky that for days I didn't think it worked with my model of iPod (G5 Video). (The truth is that you have to wake up the iPod from deep suspended mode (where it shows the Apple logo to boot up) with the Bluetooth adapter connected, then play some music, and only then can you play video. If you let the music or video playing stop, you can't get it to start the Bluetooth thing again.) I like the idea of having these lightweight headphones that can play music on my Blackberry, and sometimes it works great (like if you are standing still on the subway, and turn off the Blackberry's cellular antenna) for music, and at the gym it is useful to go cordless with the iPod, but the connection is just flaky. I will someday get an iPod Touch but I do hope that it has A2DP Bluetooth built in by that point, working with video.
  • Converting video -- I do this a lot as I grow obsessed with a TV series, buy the DVD or download all episodes from the newsgroups, and want to watch them on Media Center Extender at home or on iPod on my commute or on the treadmill at the gym. For the extender, make sure you get XVID video and MP3 audio. XVID + AC3 = pitch-shifted audio with silence every 5 seconds. (I heard that if you used stereo RCA jacks AC3 would be fine but that seems like a pain when I have an expensive Yamaha YSP amp with a coax digital connection which works fine for everything else.) So, basically no HD unless you find WMV content specifically converted for Xbox but I've found that can skip or have problems as well on the generally underpowered extender. For iPod, I use this random Aimersoft thing that has worked great (though not with AC3). Since I have to convert AC3 stuff to MP3 with AutoGK for the extender anyway, that leaves the extra step as conversions for the iPod. But basically it means that my PC is typically running some conversion process at all times.
  • ThinkPad X60 Tablet with Vista -- This is my work PC and has been for close to two years now. I am growing to hate it but I'm not sure what would be better given that the weight, the battery life with the big 9-cell battery, and the 1400x1050 12" screen are all great. Wireless is flaky as hell (lately I can't switch it off with the hardware switch and then get it working again without a reboot), docking takes minutes and it never remembers that the monitor extends to the left, and the fingerprint reader only lasts for about 6 sleep/wake-up cycles before it is no longer recognized. That happens with a lot of stuff. I am rebooting every other day these days and that's BS. If anyone has suggestions on a business tablet that is a real speed improvement with equivalent weight and screen resolution, I'm all ears.

I have a much longer entry about the Treo/Blackberry thing among my OneNote pages here but I'll save that for another time or maybe it will never leave the drafts. I'm going to try to blog more and write less in 2009. Happy New Year,

--sbreck


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