Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Nokia 5800

So far, I'm very impressed. The full size on screen keyboard is very Apple-like and the wifi is working beautifully. Additionally, it works with my T-Mobile pre-paid sim card giving me a terrific little smartphone for $100/yr (the 1000 minutes that T-Mobile gives you for that price don't expire for a year. That's actually enough for me).

The phone itself ran me $219 on Dell.com after a $50 rebate. That struck me as a good deal for a new, contract-free unlocked smartphone.

The screen on the 5800 deserves special praise. It is very bright and clear and it's resolution is excellent.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dell's online store is terrific

If you are in the market for tech, head over to Dell. In addition to their own stuff, they also sell other brands. Their online chat system, in particular, impressed me. The rep knew what he was doing and actually expedited the processing of my order (a new Nokia) and got it too me quicker.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

UPDATE!! I will never buy another Nokia phone again!

The rant you see below is still valid for that awful n80. However, after I calmed down a bit I realized that I still needed a new phone as my beloved Treo 750 was dying. I decided to give Nokia one more chance. I wound up with a new 5800 and this one is a winner. The wifi seems perfect (I am posting this fron the phone) and I really like the onscreen keyboard and music player. This looks very promising indeed.

I recently acquired a Nokia N80 smartphone. On paper it appeared to be an impressive phone. Music player, 3.2mp camera, wifi Internet access, it really seemed perfect.

Well, I just got my refund for it. Let me put this clearly, Nokia’s wifi sucks! If you plan to use a Nokia phone for free Internet access at parks and libraries, forget it. Nokia N and E series phones, including unfortunately my N80, are all plagued to varying degrees by a bug in the wifi software that produces an error called “no gateway” when trying to connect to a wifi hotspot. What makes it so irritating is that the problem is apparently completely random in how it manifests itself. The phone would effortlessly connect with some hotspots and would stubbornly refuse all efforts with others. It was easily the worst wifi device I ever encountered. Nokia, for reasons they alone know, has done nothing about this flaw despite having known about it for years now.

If you are thinking of buying a Nokia phone, do yourself a favor and first Google your phone’s model (N95, E71, etc) and the phrase “no gateway”. If you see results, be very very careful or you will wind up making an expensive mistake. Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

File this one under random thoughts...

I just finished watching one of those pseudo documentaries about UFOs. You know the kind, filled with all sorts of serious sounding interviews with pilots and military types who swear that we are being visited by alien spaceships. Invariably, there is never any hard proof to back any of it up and the show ends on a mysterious note that suggests that the viewers should decide what to believe on their own. It occurred to me afterward, why do we care if we are being visited. Why don't we do the visiting.

Now anyone who knows a thing about our current space flight technology is already aware that we do not have a way to send a manned mission to another planet as of yet, much less to another star. The fact is, we really don't have more than the most crude of ways to send anything to another star. That being said though, the most crude of ways would be good enough for what I have in mind. So far, we have sent four unmanned space probes outside of our solar system. The Pioneer 10 and 11 probes and the Voyager 1 and 2 probes are on their way to somewhere else. (Yes, technically they are still sort of in our solar system but they have passed Pluto and they will keep on going). I don't know where somewhere else is and I am pretty sure that it will take millions of years to get there but, if you take the long view, they will eventually get somewhere. Now suppose we take this concept and update it a bit.

We now know of the existence of many extra-solar planets, worlds that orbit stars other than our own. How about building a series of simple, very tough probes and target those worlds. Sure, it will take millions of years for those probes to reach their destination. But, in a universe that is 15 or so billion years old, a few million years is not that long if you look at the big picture. Unlike the earlier Voyager and Pioneer probes, these little space ships would be calculated to actually arrive at alien worlds. I would assume that if we do the launch and guidance math right, some of them really would get there.

Think about it, if there is intelligent life on one of those planets (admittedly a very small possibility) we would be answering for them the very question that our UFO shows are asking, to wit-Are we alone? If we really want to take the long view, a very long view, we could equip these probes with encapsulated containers of the chemical building blocks of life. I know that it sounds fanciful but such a space ship could, possibly, introduce life to a lifeless world.

When you think about it, this idea is one of the few I have encountered that really allows for the possibility of mankind leaving some lasting mark on the universe at large. Money wise, the space probes I am envisioning would be little more than well aimed inert containers. As such, the price really shouldn't be astronomical, relatively speaking. I think it is worth considering.

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