More Backlog

As I prepare to take a short vacation, things are getting hectic to the point where I have to deal with several flavours of alternate realities throughout the day, mostly in the budgeting and forecasting realms.

The good bits are few and far between, but luckily there is the odd new gadget to fiddle with. This week I've been churning through Windows Mobile flavours, and although I can't comment on the hardware or value-added features, the base software is certainly getting less usable with every revision.

For instance, one of my pet annoyances with the Terminal Services client on Windows Mobile 2003 was that it's brain-dead to the point of taking up a quarter of the screen with a title bar (at top) and a almost completely blank menu bar (at bottom, with only the input method selection widget).

The 2005 edition's client still works the same way, but this time the OS takes up the bottom of the screen with "soft key" labels - wasting screen real estate in a way that I would be hard pressed to classify as an an improvement, even on a 640x480 screen. That, incidentally, still feels like a 320x240 screen, and is still effectively too small for any real work.

But hey, at least they have a (somewhat) multitasking OS, unlike Palm.

Some news, then:

  • This Just In: The Mac OS X 10.4.2 update is now available, including a Dashboard widget manager (which should have been there in the first place, despite my not using Dashboard at all for months now). Plenty of detail here, including what appear to be fixes for some of my gripes towards and the infamous "black screen upon resuming" bug.
  • iSync has been updated to 2.1 (complete with idle speculation about it having anything to do with the iPhone) and is being downloaded as I type this. My K750i is now officially supported (and the 6630 is listed, but has issues). However, as always, I'm already testing the next models down the road, and keep wondering when we'll get an open, standard spec for desktop syncing that actually works independently of phone models. Or official iSync developer documentation, so that folk like me could actually extend the darn thing - that I'd definitely find the time to do.

And no, I'm not thinking of SyncML, which has become altogether too crufty. It is, after all, a telling sign that I have started maintaining by hand (yes, using vim) a .vcf file containing all my contacts and a .vcal file containing all my recurring appointments, and simply import those into whatever phone I'm using this week.

  • .mobi (the mobile domain name that you can't actually type on any mobile phone) was recently approved by ICANN. My personal opinion is that it is the completely wrong way to go about doing things, and I happen to have plenty of company. That should be the last you hear from me on this topic.
  • Back to Apple, then, and some fuss about Cocoa/Java bindings that I haven't had time to figure out yet, but which might well be the prelude for wider scripting language support in Cocoa that we've all been wishing for.
  • Skype and Boingo, sitting on a tree, V-o-I-P-i-n-g. Saw this sort of deal coming a mile away, even though all bets were off on the first VoIP service to actually reach an agreement with a Wi-Fi provider. It is not, however, real competition to mobiles.
  • Via 43 Folders, yet another piece of amazing GTD wizardry called nextaction. Hmmm. I wonder how tricky it would be to hack some of this into GTD TiddlyWiki and have the best of both worlds...
  • HP, after years of churning out cartridges with built-in printing elements (which made the cartridges more expensive, but ensured the printer lasted years and years, and that you got periodic refreshes in print quality), is now going to incorporate the print head back in the printer. And, of course, they call it innovating. To me, this is simply the next logical step in their progressive downgrading of printer build quality at the low end of the market - and one step closer to even worse, effectively disposable printers.
  • Apparently there's a patch for Doom III coming out for the Mac. I've been too busy to even consider getting a copy.