Friday, March 25, 2005

BlackBerry 7100G

It's nice to be the BES Administrator sometimes - especially when that means getting a new BlackBerry to "test". I just acquired the Blackberry 7100G yesterday. I upgraded from the BlackBerry 7280.

Other than the aesthetic overhaul (the 7100G is a nice-looking SmartPhone), the major differences between the two are: screen type, GUI, bluetooth, polyphonic support, and keyboard layout. There are pros and cons with each, so let's go through what I've seen so far.

Screen Type

While both screens support "over 65,000 colors" (65,536 = 64k), the new LCD screen on the 7100G is much more clear than the "color reflective display technology" used on the 7280. The 7100G also has a better/brighter backlight than the 7280. While the LCD screen is far superior, it can have drawbacks (partly due to having the glossy plastic cover). The main drawback is glare in the sun or other bright lights. If I can say one good thing about the 7280 it was that the screen was very readable in the sun. Also, the 7100G's screen is laid out in portrait instead of landscape like its predecessors.


The 7100G also has a text-based, menu-driven GUI as opposed to the icon menus on the 7280. There is software available for those who would prefer the icons. I am indifferent to either GUI, so this is not a problem for me.


The 7100G is the second-generation Bluetooth device from BlackBerry (the first being the 7290). While this is a wonderful enhancement to allow you to use a wireless headset, the drawback is that its only use is for a headset. With polyphonic support it would have been nice to see software to allow you to send midis/ADPCM files via Bluetooth.

Polyphonic Support

This is one of the best features of the 7100G - actually having decent ringtones! The ringtones on the 7280 sounded harsh and Atari-like. While polyphonic midis are great, there is the ability to add ADPCM (MP3-like) tones to the phone as well.

Keyboard Layout

While the 7100G still has a QWERTY keyboard, it is now using BlackBerry's Suretype technology. It is somewhat like the T9 predictive text used by other mobile phones. This is the first qualm that people have when they see the 7100G - "That keypad is strange, I don't like it." Well, after using it some, it is not really difficult to work with. I actually rather like it - having two letters on most of the keys is great because it allows the phone to be slimmer and makes thumb-typing drastically easier than on previous BlackBerries. Speaking of that, now that the phone is slimmer it doesn't feel like you're holding a calculator to your head when talking on it.


Other than that, there are some other nice features. Most of the minor enhancements have revolved around making the BlackBerry a better phone. They have actually added "place call" and "hangup" buttons. This is great because on the previous phones you would have to click the scroll wheel to answer (sometimes causing you to scroll down to "Ignore" before clicking - thus dropping the call!). There is also a speakerphone option that can come in handy. One strange option is the standby mode. After the backlight shuts down the screen just turns off. This is good for the battery, but it's just a strange quirk with the device.

Overall, I really like what BlackBerry has done with the 7100G. I have even noticed better phone reception when driving along a stretch of road on which my 7280 would lose the signal completely.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

How Much Better Is Dyson?

We've had our Dyson for a couple of months and I always have people ask me if it is worth the money. Up until today I had never performed a side-by-side test with our Hoover Wind Tunnel V2. It's a couple of years old and it was a little over $200 when we bought it. So, it's not a shabby vacuum at all. It also has the "powered hand tool" that spins a brush which is useful for getting animal hair up (we have two cats). This worked pretty good, but it was nowhere near the effectiveness of the normal Dyson attachment meant for upholstery. There is no reason for us to buy the Dyson rotating hand tool.

The Test

We have a bonus room over the garage that we have never used the Dyson in. I decided to use our Hoover and then try the Dyson. We have an almost brand new filter in the Hoover and the bagless collection area was nearly clean when I performed this test. The Dyson's collection chamber was completely cleaned out. Notice the amount of fur/dirt it picked up after vacuuming with the Hoover - and the floor looked clean after using the Hoover!

Results With Hoover

Results With Dyson

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

IBM In Cahoots With Dyson

Maybe we all remember the image at DominoZone about IBM and Teletubbies:

When I was vacuuming last night with my Yellow Dyson (GREAT vacuum by the way!!!) I recalled that there are nearly as many Dyson colors as IBM brands, so I whipped up the following graphic in MS Paint - need I say more?

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

They're Back!!

I had some time last night to search around some Christian music sites, and I found out some awesome information. Three of my favorite bands from high school and college appear to be making a comeback.

Holy Soldier
I still listen to all these bands, but Holy Soldier definitely gets more playtime currently. Check out for some info as well as a bulletin board (are they still called that?). On that site one gets the following info: "Plans are in the works for a Holy Soldier Reunion, with a reunion/benefit show on the horizon, and possibly even a new record! Keep the guys in your prayers and let's talk it up!"

From what I've read, the reunion will be with the original 5 members. While I love the newer album with Eric Wayne on vocals, Steven Patrick was an awesome metal vocalist and needs to be heard again.

Holy Soldier official site

It also appears that Guardian may be doing some touring and possibly a new album. Here are some quotes from an interview with vocalist Jamie Rowe from December 2004.

"Guardian is planning to reunite for some studio work. Nothing live is planned at this point, but you never know. Everyone, including myself, has their own things going so it would have to fit in somewhere...We are throwing around ideas right now. But I think Velvet Revolver would be a good gauge. We are doing it with John and Dino Elefante through their 3.1 productions company"


Yes, the Christian version of Ratt may also be making a comeback. After some differences, guitarist Rex Carroll and vocalist Scott Wenzel are talking again. From an interview this year we find out that they are hoping to do some touring an a studio album.

Scott Wenzell had the following to say:

"In December (2004) Rex sent me a CD of some unbelievable music that we are going to record as a new White Cross album! Pray for me as I am starting to write lyrics now. The style of music is in the vein of "Hammer And Nail" with a more modern, hard-edged sound."

In a press release on their Official Site we read: "Whitecross will perform a few selected live dates in 2005 as well as begin working on a new full length Whitecross album featuring both Rex Carroll and Scott Wenzel."

What a year this will be - it's like I'm in high school again!

Saturday, March 5, 2005

OS/2 Still Around

OS/2, an IBM-proprietary operating system first released in 1987, is still being widely used. A ComputerWorld article relates to us that Wells Fargo has just completed the replacement of their OS/2-based ATMs with a Windows-based platform. A Gartner analyst states that this move will "not great news for the security of the system. I'm sure there's a lot of holes that will be created because of this."

I recall that last year we had some major power outages in my town. If you happened to drive up to an ATM that was restarting you could actually see the OS/2 startup screen. Also, at my company we still run some core applications on OS/2 machines. It's a really stable operating system and one can see why the banking industry would choose to run it for all these years. Only problem is that it's a royal pain to get support from IBM...

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Best Lotus Notes Error Message So Far...

I'm not joking - we actually had this error message in Lotus Notes yesterday.

The error actually has something to do with sending an email from another Windows application as an email when using Notes as the default mail client.