Google Phone, Anyone?

T-Mobile recently release the new G-Phone, which is based on the Google OS called Android. It has similar functionality to the Apple iPhone (touch screen, finger sliding, etc.) and is creating a lot of buzz in the cell phone community. Since the Android OS is open-source and free, any cell phone provider could put the OS on a capable phone and sell it. Although on the surface it appears that the G-Phone is in direct competition with the iPhone, in my opinion it is in a head-to-head competition with the Microsoft Windows Mobile Smartphone devices. Google appears to be Microsoft’s main nemesis lately (and not Apple), so I’m sure they’re scrambling to create a better version of the Windows Mobile OS.

So, how many of you have a G-Phone? If so, what do you like and dislike about it?

The biggest limitation that I see for me, is the inability to sync with Microsoft Exchange (which is what my company uses). If I can’t read and send emails, sync contacts with MS-Outlook, etc. then that seriously limits my cell phone’s usefulness. Sure, there’s different applications that you can run on your PC to sync MS-Outlook calendar data to Google Calendar, etc. but they really don’t work that well. I’ve tried the utility provided by Google to do this, and it can’t sync all the atrributes of my appointments correctly.

Also, T-Mobile is the only carrier that sells a Android OS phone, so I would have to switch from Verizon to T-Mobile to have a G-Phone. Even still, raising the bar with cell phone capabilities (as Google as done with the G-Phone) can only force Microsoft and other developers to create better phone devices for everyone.

Your comments? 🙂

Starbucks and WiFi Access

I travel a lot for my job, and as such I always look for a coffee shop to be my temporary, “virtual” office. Being in Washington State, I usually search out Tully’s Coffee shops because they offer free WiFi access. But outside of WA, there aren’t very many Tully’s to be found. Of course, Starbucks shops are everywhere, and they also offer WiFi service through AT&T. However, it is not free access.

On a recent business trip, I noticed that Starbucks is now offering complimentary WiFi access if you have a Starbucks card. It’s not a credit card, but rather a gift card that you can load with any dollar amount. I was told by the Starbucks barista that I only need $5.00 on the card to have access to the complimentary WiFi in their store. So, I got a card and had the barista put $20 on it.

As it turns out, you need to go online and register the card at http://www.starbucks.com first. Then, you need to accept certain Terms and Conditions by AT&T (where you agree to allow them to email you 4 times a year with ads, etc.) to activate WiFi access. After that procedure, you can use your starbucks.com login name and password to connect to the AT&T WiFi network at any local Starbucks (that offers WiFI). The only restriction, is that you can only have one 2-hour session per day.

Since there’s Starbucks everywhere and I often need to check my emails, etc. while on travel, this seems to be a good fit for me. It really doesn’t cost me anything, since I can use the card to purchase coffee (which I normally do at least once a week). So if you also travel and want to get WiFi access occassionally, check out http://www.starbucks.com for details.

Repairing your Broken Zune

Back in April 2008 I made a posting that talked about repairing your broken Zune after the original warranty expires. If you’re a DIY (do-it-yourself) kind of person, there wasn’t much available in parts for the newer Zune 4/8/80 GB models. Fortunately, there seems to be more available now with regards to such parts. The site called www.zuneparts.com has Zune 80 parts such as a replacement battery, LCD screen, screen cover, etc. available for you DIYers. They are somewhat pricey, but it may be a good alternative to buying a whole new Zune. The RapidRepair site also provides Zune 80 parts and has several guides to opening and repairing your Zune. If you’re not the DIY type, you can always send your Zune to RapidRepair and they will fix it for you (for a fee).

Since Lithium-Ion batteries don’t last forever, I can see myself replacing my Zune 80 battery in about a year or two. In that case, it might be worth the price of a battery to fix my Zune rather than buying a whole new device.

TV Shows preimere and possible cancellation (already)?

Some of my favorite new shows are starting up again with new episodes, and my TV tuner card is busy recording and processing them for my Zune. Shows like Life, Heroes, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles are back in full swing. With my TV Tuner card and DVRMSToolbox software I should never miss an episode while I’m on business travel.

One thing I read recently, is that the Fox network is considering canceling The Sarah Connor Chronicles show. This show just started it’s 2nd season (after a short 1st season run), and already there’s talk of cancellation. It seems that if a show isn’t an instant hit, networks want to yank it immediately. Why not give a show some time to build up, and have it’s characters develop? Who’s deciding what shows are good and which ones should be canceled? Mindless reality shows seem to popup and stay on the air forever, but dramatic shows like Jericho and Journeyman get canceled after one season. Of course, it’s people like me that record shows and have software to cut out all the commercials that networks don’t like. But hey, I watch enough live TV and am subjected to plenty of commercials to support the various networks, so I don’t feel bad about it.

The Zune world appears to be calm and steady…

I haven’t written much over the last few weeks since not much is happening on the Zune front. Microsoft came out with a firmware update for ALL the Zunes, and so far not a lot of headache with bugs, installation problems, etc. I’ve upgraded my Zune 80 and everything seems to be working fine (knock on wood). I still have the occasional video file syncing problem, but for the most part everything works pretty good.

I do have to say, in my opinion the Zune is making a challenging run at the iPod community. With features like WiFi (and the ability to download music from any WiFi hotspot (like McDonald’s)), music download tagging from the radio, games, etc. the Zune is looking pretty damn good! I’ve never owned an iPod before, but I would certainly recommend to friends to check out the new Zunes.