Archive for May 2007

The Palm Folio: a disappointment

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Trip Hawkins is the mastermind behind the enormously successful Pilot, which later became the Palm Pilot and now has evolved into the Treo line. Today he was set to announce the latest breakthrough from Palm and it is…an underpowered laptop. The Palm Foleo, as it goes by, is marked as a “mobile companion” to your smartphone. In my mind, the whole point of a smartphone is to have a single, compact, multifunctional device.

Palm seems to disagree and think people will want to buy a $600 laptop to go along with their phone. What does the Foleo do? It can access the internet by piggybacking on your Treo’s internet connection or by using WiFi and allow access to email and the web, but it doesn’t seem to have the functionality of a full computer. It can display Word, Excel, and PowerPoint presentations, but doesn’t seem geared towards editing them. Rather, Palm is marketing this functionality as being present to help view attachments.

The Palm Foleo is less expensive than most laptops, only 2.4 pounds, and uses solid state memory for reliability and the ability to turn on and off quickly. Unfortunately, it also seems to be extremely limited in functionality. I’d pass on this one.

Fruit Art

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Fruit tart

As fake Steve Jobs says, “I love beautiful objects. I love creating them.” Take, for example, the fruit tart. This simple dessert is, dare I say, easy as pie, but is more glamorous. A perfect summertime treat. The basic steps are fairly minimal. Butter, sugar, and flour make the cookie-like crust. Eggs, cream and sugar are cooked to form a custard. Fresh fruit is layered on top and a jelly-based glaze makes everything look fresh. Unfortunately, I just ate the last peice.

Getting started with Podcasts

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Podcasts gave taken over my iPod. Though my entire music library can easily fit on my iPod, it rarely gets used. Instead, my iPod fills the otherwise mundane moments of life (my morning commute, shopping the supermarket, walking to the bank) with news, entertainment, and even education. “Never a dull moment” can indeed become a reality in the podcast world.

What is a podcast? The word is a combination of the iPod, the preeminent music player from Apple, and broadcast. Just as TV shows are regularly brodcast at regular intervals, podcasts are released on the internet to anyone who wishes to listen. Software, such as Apple’s iTunes, lets you easily subscribe to a podcast so that new episodes are automatically downloaded to your computer (and, if you desire, synchronized to your iPod). I recommend starting with iTunes if you are a podcast neophyte, as the iTunes store has a nice catalog of excellent podcasts.

One group of podcasts that are particularly good to start with are those at QD NOW. QD stands for “Quick and Dirty”. These short audio podcasts (podcasts in general can be either audio or video) are brief and focused, yet often useful. They seem to be released about once a week. Grammar Girl, for example, offers weekly tips on improving your grammar. Legal Lad answers common legal questions. Money Girl offers financial advice. They are, of course, all free

Many people are resistant to the idea of podcasts. Trust me on this one, though; once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

Sleeping like a baby

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Whoever coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby” either never had one or meant to convey a rather different meaning than that under common use. My son’s version of baby sleep is really a series of glorified naps that must be carefully protected lest a noisy step bring the brief moment of peace to an end.

Everyone says that having a baby changes your life, but no one can really communicate how. To me, it’s very simple. The baby takes over all aspects of your life outside of work. Exercise? Carrying the baby. Entertainment? Playing with the baby. Eating? Shoveling down food before the baby becomes restless. Sleep? I thought we discussed this already.

In some ways, this newfound focus can bring order to a chaotic life. I no longer need to worry about what to watch on TV since it has largely become a decorative piece of furniture. Which movie should I watch this weekend? The answer is none, as my vestigial Netflix subscription has appropriately been expunged.

A funny thing happens as one grows into the role of a parent. These apparent inconveniences aren’t annoying. The treasured indulgences of the past now seem irrelevant. Even the apparent futility of reading mindless children’s books to someone who is more interested in eating the book than looking at it becomes immaterial. Strangely, it seems I derive more enjoyment from even the routine activities than I ever did from my old hobbies.

Or perhaps its just the sleep deprivation talking.

New plasmas from Pioneer

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

Looking for a new HDTV? Keep your eyes open for the upcoming Pioneer PDP508 HDTV. This 1080p plasma and the PDP5080XD (it’s 720p brother) are reported to have dramatically improved black levels when compared with prior models, which means a richer picture with better contrast (making blacks look black and not dark grey is a major challenge for TVs). This report comes from Pioneer themselves, so take it with a grain of salt. Still, if you have a pending purchase in mind, it may be worth waiting to see what these sets have to offer. No word on pricing yet, but look for these sets next month.