Category: Hardware

My Love / Hate Relationship With My Blackberry

There is no perfect piece of equipment on the planet. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. It kind of reminds me of the words of a managing partner I used to work with. He’d say, “Ellen, there’s no great copier, they’re just different colored and more or less expensive pieces of c **p! Take your pick.” Well, my search for the perfect smart device continues. My latest arrival is the Blackberry 7130e. I’ve been using it a few months now. Enough time to give you the straight scoop — at least from my perspective — on how it performs.

I wanted to stay with my Sprint service, because I’ve found it highly reliable. I had no such luck with Cingular or Verizon. I find that this is a very individualistic experience, and your satisfaction with a particular carrier will vary based on where you live, and where you travel. But again, my experience with Sprint has been comparatively better. That meant that the number of smart phones available to me were limited. For a variety of reasons I’ll not go into here, I decided to go with Blackberry instead of Treo.

What I like about the Blackberry:

1- Even though I am hard of hearing, I can hear callers clearly. This was a problem with two former cell phones, which I had to replace. And I should add that even with an earpiece it was a problem with the other units.

2- The fidelity is very good according to those I talk to.

3- I like the fact that I can have multiple ring profiles, each customized as to volume, tones for different types of alarms, etc, and that I can switch between them extremely easily.

4- I like the fact that I can arrange the icons on the screen as I want.

5- Love the Bluetooth.

6- Extremely easy set-up. Very easy to add software later.

7- Synchronization works reliably every single time. No hassles. I’m so happy to have returned to the Palm operating system. My Compaq IPAQ, which used the Windows operating system, was a nightmare in the synchronization area. Two different times, despite the settings, it overwrote my contacts in Outlook with nothing!! Good thing I had a backup.

8- It holds a charge longer than previous cell phones or PDAs I have used.

9- No cradle. Just a USB cable. Ok, that sounds funny, but the ultimate downfall of my IPAQ was the eventual failure of the cradle, not the PDA itself. Not relying on a cradle means one less thing which can go wrong.

10- A big bone of contention for me was that the IPAQ would not bring over all of the information I had in my Contacts and wanted. I couldn’t search by or within category, for example. Trust me, when you have almost 3,000 contacts, you want to be able to sort them out on occasion. My contacts include all the notes I have in the text area, which means I have directions readily available to all of my clients’ offices.

11- Dialing extensions is a no-brainer. When I have a phone number with extension in Outlook, the Blackberry dials the main number, and pauses with the extension filled in, ready for me to press “enter” to select it. I can also just program in a pause using the good old reliable comma (“,”) so that I don’t have to even hit enter at all.

12- Email comes over relatively quickly and flawlessly. I can decide whether to delete on the handheld only, or on both the handheld and PC upon synchronization, which is a timesaver.

What I dislike about the Blackberry:

1- The placement of the keypad letters don’t match the telephone. So when you have to dial by name to reach an extension on a vmail system, unless you have the number equivalent of each letter memorized, it doesn’t work. What were they thinking?

2- While I’m bitching about the keypad, let me mention that each key represents one of two possible characters. They have an “intuitive” way of typing which anticipates, based on the combination of keys pressed, what words you are trying to spell. Maybe it works for John Q. Public, but I can tell you it’s a nightmare trying to get it to work properly in a legal environment. [Yes, telephony consultant Jonathan Stiller — you can find him in the Entrepreneur’s Club listings — you were right!] As an alternative, you can set the keyboard to work with one touch for the first letter, and two touches for the second. That works slowly but accurately. Problem is that it got turned off, and I can’t seem to find the command anywhere to turn it back on. And I have gone through the help repeatedly and it doesn’t tell me the simple keystroke combination to turn it back on.

3- Ok, while I’m bitching about the Help screens, let me say it is sorely inadequate. Despite the index, the information I find never seems to answer the question I have.

4- I HATE the track wheel. Actually, if I could come up with a stronger word than HATE, I would use it. To select what action you want you have to push in (click) the track wheel. Try doing it with one hand, unless you have big manly hands. Instead of the click the track wheel will roll and you will get a different selection or action entirely. It’s simply maddening.

5- Likewise, one must click the darned track wheel unnecessarily, in my humble opinion, several times to finish and confirm selections. For example, it’s not enough to put in a telephone number and click, then a screen comes up and you need to click again to confirm you want to dial the number.

6- The fact that there’s no touch screen is a severe impediment. And a big waste of my time. Especially given the clunky trackwheel which rarely gives me the desired action — inevitably moving up or down when I just want to click it on the selected item.

7- The fact that there are no voice commands, particularly for dialing, is a severe impediment.

8- I greatly wish it took an SD card for additional storage capability. It needs this option.

9- Deleting emails is a hassle. It’s strictly one at a time. When I am not on the road but out of the office, all I want is the telephone, calendar, rolodex, and the ability to send an email if I must. I don’t want to have to individually clean up the 150 – 250 emails I receive each day. Ok, sure, it will automatically delete them after a certain number of days. But the minimum increment of days is 30. You do the math. There should be a much shorter increment option, like 5 days.

10- While we’re on the topic of emails, I have to say that some twinkie-eating pepsi-drinking programmer who was obviously too high on caffeine and sugar while writing the code at 4:00 a.m. really missed the boat in organizing email from oldest to newest in terms of where your cursor is when you open the inbox on the Blackberry. Scrolling up through several hundred emails before I can see if the one I’m “waiting for” has come in, is maddening to say the least. And a huge time waster.

11- Yet another beef regarding emails is that I can’t seem to do a mass delete like I can in Outlook. No apparent click / shift-click capability exists to remove everything from point A to point B. That would help a lot in keeping things lean and mean.

12- This point about what I hate is right up there at the top of the heap. When I am trying to make a call and a reminder pops up, it totally interrupts the look-up or dialing, and I have to stop and respond to the reminder (e.g. dismiss or open) and afterwards start calling or looking up the address all over again. It also interferes with the use of the keypad if a reminder pops up while a call is in progress. Hey twinkie eating programmers, can’t you figure out how to stop a reminder from popping up until a call has ended? This has happened several times when I was in the process of retrieving my vmail messages, and the last time I almost threw the *!@!* Blackberry out the car window! (Ok, maybe my frustration level with equipment nonsense could stand a little medication therapy!)

13- I’m still trying to figure out why some reminders have the ability to snooze (but 30 minutes is the only option), but most are either open or dismiss. That’s maddening as well.

Ok, that’s it for now. I’m sure there’s more that I’m just not remembering. When it comes to me, I’ll add onto this post. Overall, despite what it sounds like, I’m reasonably happy with the Blackberry. But there just might be a Treo in my future. My search for the perfect convergent device, a/k/a smart phone, is never ending.

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Intel Introduces New Quad-Core Chip

It wasn’t that long ago — July 2006 — when Intel shook things up with the release of a dual-core chip. At least that’s how it feels in people time. Yet here I sit — I admit in awe — reading a review from PC Magazine on the brand new Intel quad-core chip. The Core 2 Extreme Q6700 quad-core processor is built using two Core 2 Duo dies, meaning that the QX6700 is essentially two dual-core CPUs in a single package. Why do we care? This allows it to look like a single processor, which is important for operating system licensing. Microsoft counts the sockets, not the number of cores, in Windows licensing. That can mean huge savings.

Kentsfield, the code name for the new quad-core chip, doesn’t yet do much for you and me. It will be used more for gaming applications. But with all the “housekeeping” that XP and upcoming VISTA perform in the background, it promises to significantly boost operating speeds by assisting and speeding those processes.

Eventually, when applications we use are built to take advantage of the quad-core (we’re still waiting for them to take advantage of the dual-core), it will provide some amazing performance gains. The key words for applications which can take advantage of the technology are those which are “threaded”. Thus far, as mentioned, gaming applications are being written with threading to take advantage of the additional CPU processing.

Not all motherboards will support the quad-core CPU. Eventually the number which do will increase, and this chip will be incorporated into the PCs we normally purchase. You’ve probably noticed that TV commercials are now starting to emphasize “off the line” dual-core chips. In the not-so-distant future those commercials will tout the quad-core.

So for right now, let’s just note this technological benchmark achievement as something which will eventually trickle down to our user level with some amazing and blazingly fast performance enhancements. And keep your antennae tuned to any applications presented as “multi-threaded” in design, as you know they will be capable of taking advantage of the extra processing power.

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

New Article On Digital Cameras Available for Review

Thinking of buying a digital camera? Not sure what all the features are about, and what impact they have on price and performance? Then you will benefit from the new article Digital Cameras: The Five Most Important Elements — which has just been added to the articles section of the web site of Freedman Consulting, Inc.

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Talk from TechSHOW – Day Two

Today started out like every speaker’s worst nightmare. I was scheduled to present at one of the first (8:30 a.m.) sessions of the day, with my colleague Laura Calloway of the Alabama State Bar Association. Our topic was entitled 60 Finance Tips in 60 Minutes.

Those of you who know me personally know I’m not much of a morning person. It’s easier for me to attend such a session when working through the night before. But given the schedule of non-stop seminars and events throughout the day, that wasn’t the most prudent strategy. So instead I opted for a wake-up call with another wake-up call 15 minutes thereafter as a safety feature. Brilliant!

My first call arrived at the precise minute, and I almost instantly fell back asleep contentedly for the best sleep of the day – that extra stolen 15 minutes. My back-up call awakened me, and my first thoughts were that I felt so much more rested. I stretched contentedly and quietly gathered my thoughts for the day. Eventually I glanced at the clock and realized that my back-up call had come not 15 minutes later, but one hour and 15 minutes later!!! I jumped out of bed like a demented Jack-in-the-Box. Every woman’s worst nightmare is to have only 30 minutes to wash, dress, and arrive somewhere. And of course every speaker’s worst nightmare is to be late to the podium.

I did a yeoman’s job of readying myself in record time. I was in the elevator when I glanced at my reflection in the brass door and realized I had not even brushed my hair. I hastily ran my hands through it. All was worth it when attendees crossed my path later in the day with words of sincere praise. Apparently no one but me could tell I was less than well groomed, and not wearing all the usual items of apparel that someone with more prep time would have on. 🙂

I attended many educational sessions throughout the rest of the day, and made my rounds once again through the exhibit hall. It’s amazing that despite having wound my way through all the aisles the day before, I managed to find software, services, and devices I had previously missed.

My “Find of the Day” in the exhibit hall was the 60” multi-media digital wall display from 3M. Officially designated Vikuiti Super Close Projection, it functions simultaneously as a white board, presentation screen, and display for DVD, and anything else you can plug in to a computer interface, and has incorporated stereo sound. It can be permanently mounted on a wall, or purchased with a cart for rolling from room to room. It is height adjustable when on the cart to easily lower to go through doorways, and raise back up for easy viewing height in a crowded room. One thing I really liked about it was the lack of wires, and the fact that there was no need to maintain any distance between a separate projector and the screen. It was all incorporated.

My favorite educational session of the day, presented by John Simek and David Reis, was entitled Information Security for Lawyers and Law Firms. You have probably read or heard that an unpatched or unprotected PC which is connected to the internet will be compromised by something nasty within 20 minutes. That fact is not scary at all compared to what was presented at this session.

Malware – Spyware – Trojans – Worms – Viruses – Scumware – Rootkits . . . OH MY!

We used to think of these things in terms of some pimply faced geek with too much time on his hands trying to prove something about his worth. Not anymore. As I have written repeatedly in this blog, the current motives are purely nefarious and economic, and the perpetrators are highly skilled and disreputable individuals. Motives include corporate espionage, identity theft, credit card fraud, and more.

There have been major inroads achieved in eliminating threats such as viruses and worms. I liken it to the role that consistent and mandatory vaccinations had in eliminating polio and other diseases. Unfortunately, new threats, such as rootkits, have increased 700% since last year. And because their very nature as stealth software enables them to virtually escape detection by morphing continually to keep ahead of detection engines, we are not likely to see a reduction or even slowing any time soon.

What was amazingly scary about the seminar was seeing how easy it was to locate and utilize ready-made tools on the internet designed to create these rootkits, worms, and other malware. They work with a simple dialog box filled with pull-down menus.

The presenters used such tools to create a rootkit right in front of our eyes in less than a minute. It surreptitiously took over the other presenter’s computer and files were copied, the system clock was deleted from the system tray, a program was deleted, and, humorously, they opened and closed the CD tray remotely. All done in minutes right before our eyes.

They emphasized that there is currently no “silver bullet” to deal with this newly evolving rootkit threat. They recommended that at least three different detection engines be used regularly to effectively detect them. If found, they mentioned that even Microsoft recommends you don’t try to cure. Instead, just reformat the hard drive, and start from scratch by reloading your operating system and all of your program software again.

Their conclusions on what it takes to secure your network properly:

1) Acknowledge that there is no silver bullet, and despite the recommendations of many consultants that you pick an all-in-one product, use several. Keep in mind that the best software keeps changing. For example, we were shown a current rating chart of anti-spyware from most effective to least effective. Spybot S & D, which at one time was the best, was at the lower end of the chart. Blacklight was one of the best. But that could change again in a few more months.

2) Properly securing your network or computer is a process, not an event. It involves people, procedures and technology. You cannot succeed by paying attention to only one or two of these factors.

3) Your firm needs a security program which identifies risks and defines the actions that will be taken in the event the risk is present.

4) You need “layered” defenses which guard your gateway to the network, as well as your internal network devices, software and data.

Many other suggestions were offered, from data segmentation to physical biometric sensors on laptops, to more complex and secure passwords. I was pleased that they mentioned what I find is often overlooked and key to any successful security measure: training and retraining for staff and attorneys and new hires.

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Laptop Computer Ergonomics

If you use your laptop as your primary computer, you don’t have to be told that it can be a little difficult to be comfortable from an ergonomic perspective. The angle of your wrists when using the keypad can cause strain and pain in wrists and arms, and even finger cramping, over time. And usually the height of the monitor causes you to keep your chin tucked. This can also become painful in the neck and shoulders over time. Because the laptop monitor is attached to the keyboard, if you place the computer high enough for a comfortable viewing angle, the keyboard will be too high for maintaining healthy wrist posture. Conversely, if you place the laptop low enough for the proper elbows-at-90 degrees-wrists-flat body English, your neck will be cranked down at an uncomfortable angle.

For my fellow Baby Boomers, we’ve also discovered that if we put the laptop back far enough to comfortably read the screen, it is too far for comfortably using the keyboard, assuming it’s even possible to comfortably use the keyboards built into most laptops — except for the IBM laptops — most have small, crowded keyboards. That’s why the U.S. Center for Disease Control recommends against using laptops as primary computers unless they are used in a way consistent with neutral posture.

Nowadays, at least one in three computers is used as the primary workstation. That means that ergonomic considerations must come into play. Raising your laptop up and utilizing a separate keyboard and mouse can help immensely. Laptop stands are not expensive, and can improve your laptop experience. Keyboards have become so inexpensive that there is almost no reason, aside from space limitation, to not have a full-sized external keyboard.

The Targus Ergo M-Pro Mobile Notebook Stand is lightweight (1.37 lbs ) and can easily fit into your travel bag because its folded size is only 9″ x 12.2″ x 0.5″ . It provides multiple tilt angles for flexible height adjustment, and a document holder. The cost is $69.99 from Targus.

The M-Pro received only a fair rating in a review by PCMag.com. They found “the stand is too light for extended use with most notebooks. One awkward nudge and it could tip easily, especially given the vertically oriented design.” They also point out that the handy document holder blocks use of the keyboard, thereby requiring use of an external keyboard. Ok for the home office, but it kind of defeats the mobile advantages if one also needs to carry a spare keyboard. So if it’s going to be for home use only, stability should rule the roost.

The Plasticsmith Lapvantage Loft is relatively innovative. It’s designed to be used with an external keyboard and mouse. It includes silicone feet to help circulate air under your laptop and keep your laptop running cool. It swivels 360º, provides room to tuck in an external keyboard from 1″ – 3″ under the laptop, and is manufactured from heavy ABS plastic. It has rubber feet to keep it from moving on the desk. It can support up to 15 lbs. It costs $79.99 direct. At the slightly reduced price of $69.95 you can select the Plasticsmith Lapvantage Dome instead, which provides the same features. The Plasticsmith got the highest rating from PCMag.com.

The APC Ergonomic Notebook Stand with Four-Port USB 2.0 Hub got the next-highest rating in the PCMag.com review. Weighing in at 3.4 lbs, it features 360 degree swivel capability, allows for notebook cooling , and has an integrated 4-port USB 2.0 hub. The “notebook retainer” top can lock into three different positions. The review notes, “Some smaller notebooks and gargantuan widescreen wonders like the Apple PowerBook 17-inch might not sit perfectly on the stand, though, and we’re not sure why it comes with such a brick-like AC adapter.”

The Griffin iCurve Invisible Laptop Stand is designed for Apple computers. It is a simple plastic device which looks a little like half of a binder clip. It raises the laptop screen to eye level, and it significantly increases airflow around the laptop, to keep it running cool. No fancy swiveling, cord clips or USB hubs. But then again, the price is only $39.99 direct. PCMag.com was not kind in its review, however, stating “. . .even though the stand has small plastic rubber grips attached, we still felt that it could slide around too easily on a smooth desk, and we wondered about its stability. And the iCurve won’t work at all for bigger notebooks; the arms are just too close together.”

The Notebook Spyder Laptop Stand is available from a variety of online stores. At Ergostoreonline it sells for $39.95. It looks like a mini coffee table, and features an adjustable height of 3″-4″ and a leg design which accommodates external keyboard storage underneath the laptop.

The Contour Design NoteRiser is portable, folding down to just 1/6th of an inch, and weighs in at a mere .84 lbs, but is also durable because it is made of metal. It is adjustable to 7 different heights. It includes a document holder. At $99.95, it is one of the more expensive options.

Last but certainly not least in my post is the Laptop Laidback. If you like computing while lying down in bed or on the sofa, then this is the laptop stand for you! It fits all laptop computers, and is designed to eliminates overheating. It is highly adjustable and stable, and is made of wood and melamine. It is 1.75″ thick and weighs 4.75 lbs. It costs a whopping $139.00 if you buy direct. I read numerous reviews that mention you can purchase it for only 89.00 at the Applelinks Store; if you can find it on their site, more power to you. I can’t seem to locate a working link to their store. Nonetheless, for computing ease while lying comfortably flat on your back, even if you can’t find it at a discount, no price is too great. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

A Great Gift — Digital Picture Key Chain

This isn’t just a holiday gift, because to be honest this item is great as a gift all year round. It’s suitable for family, peers, staff, and clients. I’m referring to the new TAO KeyPix Digital Picture Key Chain.

Carrying actual photos is a pain. They never seem to be on me when I want to show them. I can only carry so many at once. And they tend to get doggy-eared pretty quickly. The KeyPix loads up to 56 jpeg photos (512 Kb memory) onto a keychain device which is about 1.5″ x 1.5″ x .4″ and weighs 4 ounces. It has a 1″ LCD display with a resolution of 96 x 64 (4096 colors). It works with a built-in USB 1.1 interface which is backwards compatible, meaning you can plug it into your 2.0 USB hub and it will work, albeit slower. When it runs in either browse or slideshow mode, it works off an internal battery which provides 2 hours viewing time.

The KeyPix comes in round, square and diamond shapes. They cost $59.99. Shhhh…I bought one for my mother and sister. I’m going to deliver one to each of them preloaded with some great family shots I’ve accumulated. Speaking of preloaded, it comes with the necessary software for viewing, and operates on Windows 98,2000 and XP.

Ok, for the last time, let me know if you need my shipping address! 🙂

TAO KeyPix Digital Picture Key Chain

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Heavy Duty Printing — Affordable Pricing

I’ve always been a big fan of HP printers, although I don’t like their multi-function devices at all. (That’s based both on personal experience and feedback from plenty of law offices.) Sometimes when we think of printers we think ONLY of HP. It’s become almost a generic name for printer, like Xerox has become mostly generic for copier, and Kleenex for tissue. Unfortunately that often causes some of you to overlook some great alternatives when you’re shopping for a printer.

Okidata makes great printers, for example. Like the old HPs, those old Oki’s out there just don’t die. So when I was searching for a quality color laser printer, (after being suprisingly disappointed with the performance reliability and image quality of two HPs in a row), I turned back to Okidata. That turned out to be the right move! It’s been in service about three years now. It’s faster than my HP 4050N, does simplex or duplex, and the image quality and colors are just incredible. It’s never had a jam or needed service.

Another solid brand for printers is Lexmark. They’ve been around a long time, and their quality is very good. They’ve just released a new model, the Lexmark T644 monochrome laser printer. PC Magazine gave it four out of five stars, BERTL named the device a Five-Star “Exceptional” award winner, and BLI (Buyers Laboratory) awarded the Lexmark T644 with its coveted “Highly Recommended” rating.

The Lexmark Model T644dtn sells on the Lexmark site for $1,649. It features simplex print speed of 50 ppm and duplex speed of 37 spm (sides per minute). The processor runs at a limber 514 MHz. This model comes with network connection and additional paper handling capability that the T644 doesn’t have. It comes with 128 Mb RAM, and is upgradeable to 640 Mb.

I always recommend (and purchase) a memory upgrade, as images eat gobs of printer memory and can really slow output down. Nowadays, with scanning and PDF getting such heavy use, it just makes sense to upgrade printer memory. It’s cheap and well worth it.

The standard paper handling includes 500 Sheets input, 500 sheets duplex, and 100 sheet multipurpose feeder. The standard 3 paper inputs can be increased to a maximum of 6 at a whopping 4100 pages total, including an 85 envelope feeder, and a finishing option.

BERTL noted in their review that the Five-Star status is “only given to devices that set the bar higher than the competition, creating a new benchmark that others will aspire to match.” It cited new ease of use features, such as the convenient USB port on the operator panel that allows for direct printing from a flash storage device, as innovative enhancements that set the Lexmark T644 apart in the marketplace.

I’m not suggesting you run out and buy this new Lexmark printer, although I have to say I think it’s an amazing amount of printing power for the dollars. What I’m suggesting is that when you are in need of a new printer, you remember that there is more than one good manufacturer out there to investigate, so don’t limit your options.

LexmarkT644dtn Printer

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Items on MY Holiday Shopping List

Ok, most women may be drooling over a diamond tennis bracelet or that perfect strand of pearls, but at the top of my list are a couple of electronic items. First is the new Epson PowerLite(R) Cinema Home 20 projector. It comes equipped with everything necessary to enjoy big screen movies, video games, televised events, PC use and more. Its small shape also allows it to be used as a portable, table-top solution that can be set up in other rooms around the home or transported to other locations and special events. (I can just imagine doing computer training using this tool.) Other key features and benefits for end-users include:

* 1,200 ANSI lumens of brightness and 1000:1 contrast ratio
* Epson 3LCD technology to project more than 16.7 million colors
* Optical/offset lens shift to easily setup viewing space in any area
without distortion
* Short throw distance, allowing for projection of an 80-inch widescreen image from just 6.6 feet away
* Six preset color modes tailored for different lighting conditions
* 3,000-hour lamp life
* Input sources for component video, VGA (for PC use) and composite video

The PowerLite Home 20 also comes with an 80-inch, pull-up, floor-standing, 16:9 widescreen that is portable and easy to store within its compact, carrying case. All for a street price of $999. No doubt about it, the portable screen is the clincher in my book! The portable screen alone costs $700, although there are alternatives available elsewhere on the www, but none as nice and simple to set up, from what I see on the demo video. The PowerLite comes with toll-free two year priority technical support, two year limited warranty and a 90-day lamp warranty.

Epson PowerLite 20

Item two on my list is a Lexar 1 GB Secure II JumpDrive. It features automatic 256-bit encryption (when copying to the jump drive), and automatic decryption (when copying from the jump drive to the PC), the ability to easily create multiple password-protected areas called Encrypted Vaults on the JumpDrive, a File Shredder feature which allows you to securely and thoroughly delete files so that they can never be re-accessed or recovered. It is usable on both PC and Mac. It comes with a 2 year limited warranty. Cost? Only $99.99!

Please be sure to let me know if you need my shipping address. 🙂

Lexar JumpDrive

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Huge Jump in Server Processing Power

Every once in a while I have to pause and write about improvements in hardware or software technology, just to give myself a little time to restore my composure and wipe the drool from my chin.

For many years now the endless upgrade cycle in PC hardware has been pushed by software advances. Increasing software capabilities, accompanied by increasing demands of the software (bloatware?) for processing room (RAM / random access memory) and speed (MHz / megahertz), have pushed the replacement cycle to law firm budgetary limits.

For the first time in a long time, it seems that hardware advances have temporarily outstripped the software advancements. The new dual-core Xenon processor launched by Intel, like the dual-core Opteron launched by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), offers some significant hardware advantages which software cannot yet take advantage of. Both processors have the ability to deliver not just dual processors, but quad processing power. Translation? Computer multi-tasking to the nth degree. Both also offer a significantly faster front-side bus. Translation? Moving information to and from the processor much faster.

For Intel, the major new advantage touted, according to a CNet News article, is it’s Virtualization Technology (VT), code-named Vanderpool, which simplifies running multiple operating systems on the same server. As firms increasingly offer / explore a Linux environment as an alternative operating system, the increased functionality will be enticing for high-end users.

Ok, admittedly this stuff is too pricey and powerful for all but the largest firms. But we all know that hardware tends to commoditize quickly. So it won’t be long in “people years ” (as opposed to technology years), before the ability to double or quadruple our current server processing power and speed will cost us little if anything more than what we’re paying now for a high quality server. It will also mean that some applications which currently require their own servers–document management, image management, databases–will be able to co-exist on the main server. Overall that will lower cost of ownership, and simplify things in the computer room considerably.

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

Blackberry Dead in U.S. ?

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion faces a possible halt to its U.S. sales and service now that an appeals court has denied its motion to stay a patent infringement case brought by NTP Inc. , according to a recent article in CNN Money, captured off the Reuters newswire.

NTP successfully sued RIM for patent infringement. The case will move back to the District Court it was first heard in for re-confirmation of an injunction that would halt U.S. sales of the BlackBerry device and shut down its service in the United States. The Appeals court denied RIM’s motion to stay NTP’s successful patent infringement suit. However, based on a news release on RIM’s own web site, all of the NTP patent claims have now been rejected by the Patent Office in its initial rulings in re-examination proceedings, based in part on prior art not considered in the District Court trial in 2002.

The two companies agreed to a settlement in March 2006 in which RIM would pay NTP $450 million. But the settlement was never finalized.

Whether or not this case will impact the recently announced licensing deal that will let Palm’s Treo Smartphone use Research in Motion’s Blackberry wireless technology remains to be seen.

On the other hand, do we care? As Rocky Stefano of Identita Technologies Inc. quickly pointed out on the ABA LawTech listserv, “With this latest Exchange Service Pack, Microsoft once again obliterates the competition by giving away for free (push email) what RIM (Blackberry) charges 5K for. Why even pay your cell phone provider for RIM service when you get it for free with an IP-enabled phone? RIM has about 2 million users now while there are about 20 million Exchange users that can upgrade to Mobile Push for free.

Good point, Rocky.

In a news release on Microsoft’s web site, they announced that Palm has licensed the Microsoft Windows Mobile operating system for an expanded line of Treo Smartphones, the first of which will be available on Verizon Wireless’ national wireless broadband network.

Ironically, there has never been a better time to purchase a Blackberry convergent phone/PDA. At one site I visited, multiple rebates reduced the price to zero, and on one model, you could even earn $25 by purchasing it.

==========

To return to the main page of the blog, click here. To return to the blog Index, click here.

WordPress Themes