Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Samsung Blackjack Impressions

A couple months ago I gave my archaic Nokia cellphone for a snazzy new Samsung Blackjack. I wanted something that would replace both my phone and my ancient Sony Clie Palm PDA. My choices seemed to be between the Blackjack, the Blackberry and a Treo. I didn't want to go the Blackberry route since that seemed to lock you into their network at an additional cost (according to a Cingular rep, so this could be an incorrect premise). I was a bit scared off by rumors of Palms imminent demise and they were also too darn expensive. That left the Blackjack. Here are some of my impressions of the device:


  • Form-factor - the size, weight and feel are great. It is barely noticeable in my belt holster.

  • Screen - the screen seems tiny at first (and it is) but it is very clear and still display enough information.

  • Call quality - I have found this phone to be much better than my old Nokia.


  • Keyboard - the keyboard is quite small and takes a fair amount of practice to avoid hitting the wrong key. People with large hands probably can't use it.

  • Screen in daylight - in daylight, the screen is unveiwable. My old Nokia was much at this.

  • PDA functionality - the Palm is a much, much better PDA platform that MS Outlook. There are tons of little things that Palm does that are missing in Outlook. For instance, having a calendar event with no time; Outlook forces a time (or rather sets it to all-day), which doesn't make sense for things like birthdays. The todo function in Outlook lacks the polish of Palm. Also, the Smartphone edition of Windows Mobile doesn't come with a list function; I had to buy and 3rd party program for this. Lastly, the sync works much smarter in Palm. The Outlook sync always makes duplicates or recreates deleted items.

Overall, I enjoy the Blackjack and appreciate having only one device to haul around. If you need to go with Windows, I recommend it. But if I had to do it over again, I would have splurged and got a Treo.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Under 3 Dollar Gas

I saw the local Chevron had gas for $2.99/gallon which almost 20 cents cheaper than a month ago. This seems to contradict the rising cost of crude.
Is the refining capacity picking up?
Are we using less gasoline?
Are the oil companies suppressing prices to keep us mollified?
I guess a combination of the first two.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Roomba Review

I have had my Roomba for over 6 months now which has given me enough time to give it a thorough shake down.
Overall, the machine works great. It is a great way to vacuum. It is especially nifty at getting under beds and cabinets that are difficult with a regular vacuum. We tend to use it much more than our old central vac.
There are some nits about the unit.
* It is quite loud. Not as loud as a regular vacuum, but you wouldn't want to run it if you need some peace and quiet.
* Cleaning it is a pain. All the spinning parts will have hair and pet fur wrapped around them after one or two runs. The main brush is easy to clean with a knife or a special cleaning tool, but the side brush and the center wheel are not designed to be easily removed, so they get really clogged up. In fact, the center wheel will become hard to turn, which probably reduces battery life. Also, the unit has lots of small parts that can get lost easily; so take care when disassembling it.
* Extension cords will bind it up. Since the unit can get into places you normally don't vacuum, make sure there aren't any extensions cords, yarn or other stuff that tends to hide under beds and cabinets. They will bring the robot to a screeching halt.

Since replacement parts are easy to come by, I intend to use my robot as much as possible. I have my eyes on the workshop model next.