I’ve had a new slab of glass and black plastic for just over a week now. While this wasn’t a planned purchase, I can’t say I’ve been unhappy with it. on Flickr.

The countdown has begun

For those of us who are such fanboys we can hardly wait: the iPhone Countdown. (This post prompted the creation of a new category/tag.)


The federal government is apparently looking at creating a national SMS alert system. [Via MobileTracker.]

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Congratulations to Kyle MacDonald, who, one year and fourteen trades later, bartered a red paper clip for a house.

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Making sure you tipped the right amount after the fact doesn't do your server much good, does it?

The latest on mobile phone manners

Tony Long:

Look, the world is not your personal playground. Do not share with us your musical tastes; do not share with us your latest wheelings and dealings. In public places, you have an obligation to hold up your end of the implied social contract by not imposing yourself on those around you. This is crucial to a civilized society and just because technology allows you to act like a braying ass in public doesn't mean you should do it. Quite the contrary, in fact. You need to be more aware of your surroundings than ever.

I particularly liked one suggestion:

Ditch the ring tone and put the phone on vibrate. The only person who cares about an incoming call on your phone is you. Don't worry, you'll feel it. (It feels go-o-o-od.) Most ring tones are not only intrusive, they're inane.

One feature I like on my phone, and I'm sure it's on most new phones, is the option to have it simultaneously vibrate and ring. My phone vibrates first, then starts the ring tone, so I can usually nab it when only the first couple of notes are playing. It's also dead simple to change from "Vibe & Ring" to "Vibrate" when the situation demands (church, movies, restaurants).

The fact that most ring tones are inane is why I roll my own. My "standard" ring tone is the opening twenty-two seconds of The Who's "Baba O'Riley". When strangers hear it, I always get a knowing smile, or a quizzical look that says, I know that melody, but I can't quite place it... It's certainly unique, and I won't confuse it with anyone else's ring.

Which brings me to my own mobile phone usage tip: change your ring tone from whatever the default is. (If you can; I realize older phones still in use may not have that option.) I don't know why, but I find it irritating when the default Moto or Nokia ring tone goes off. Find something else. Please.

VZW needs a new ad agency

Am I the only one that thinks the new "It's the network" series of commercials for Verizon Wireless are actually more annoying than the old "Can you hear me now?" commercials?

Update: Okay, I am forced to admit to a redeeming quality of these commercials. Tom's passionate defense of them as funny via IM made me laugh. "Perhaps goth angst doesn't translate to Texan" has to be the IM quote of the day.

v551 highs and lows

As promised, what follows are my impressions after two weeks with the phone.


  • The built-in camera has a resolution of 640 x 480, and is way better than the pitiful, why-even-include-it camera on the T616. Of course, the T616 was old when I got it 18 months ago...
  • I like having MP3 ringtones. On the night of July 27th, I launched Audio Hijack Pro, and captured, via iTunes, the first 20 seconds of The Who's "Baba O'Riley." This is now my default ringtone. (To show you what a super guy I am, if you want it, here it is, saving you the time and effort of doing it yourself.)
  • The screen is bright and clear, even at the default settings for brightness and backlighting, which I have yet to tamper with. The keypad is easier to use, and I much prefer the five-way navigation key to the joystick employed by Sony Ericsson.
  • It has worked flawlessly with my SE Akono Bluetooth headset.

If you want to remain in good-news-only bliss, then don't read the cons after the jump.


  • While the v551 works flawlessly with my Akono headset, I also hear every single sound the phone may make through the headset. Boo. Hiss. I only want to hear the phone call, not every key press. Your phone should make this distinction when in use with a headset system.
  • Also, when the headset is in use, whatever ringtone you have set for the phone is replaced by a generic, beeping ringtone. Again, boo. Hiss. What difference does it make to the phone, ringtone-wise, that the headset is connected. The headset has its own bland ringtone. I don't need another one. This means that so long as I have the headset connected, no one can hear the cool, aforementioned MP3 ringtone I made.

The Deal-Breaker

What ensures I will not own another Motorola mobile phone, though, is the Phonebook.

Now, I was not plagued with the inability to sync the v551 with my PowerBook, like some have experienced. Once I deleted the pairing of my old phone with the PowerBook, I was able to pair and sync, via iSync, with no problems whatsoever. The problem is with Moto's Phonebook implementation, and yes, I will be comparing it against Sony Ericsson's, since that's what I'm familiar with.

If you have stored contact info on your SIM card, as have I, the v551 displays this info with no problem. If you happen to sync your computer with the v551, however, it does not update the SIM card, but rather loads all of the contact info in to the phone's memory (a decent 5 MB). You then have, in the Phonebook, the same information listed twice. Except the SIM card info displays by last name, first name. The info in memory displays by first name, last name.

With no way to only have one or the other display.

I went through every menu. I read through the owner's manual. Finally, I contacted Motorola technical support. Here's what I sent to Moto:

I recently received a Moto v551 as a replacement for another phone I had through Cingular. I took the SIM card from the old phone and placed it in the v551 with no issues.

I am a Macintosh user, and have been using Apple’s iSync software to synchronize contacts from my PowerBook’s Address Book with the v551. However, it appears I am getting double entries. The sync puts contact info in the phone’s memory, which is fine. But the v551’s phonebook shows both contacts in the phone’s memory, and contacts on the SIM card.

Is there a setting on the phone to tell the phonebook to only use contacts from one source? I would like to use the phone’s memory, and not the SIM card, but I would rather not delete contacts from the SIM card.

Here's what Moto sent back, with the generic stuff edited out:

Regarding your concern, when accessing the Phonebook menu on the Motorola V551, Phonebook contacts saved into the telephone memory and into the SIM card will be automatically displayed. Unfortunately it is not possible to disable this feature.

In February, I'll be eligible for a phone upgrade with Cingular, or I can go to May and switch services, should I choose, when my contract is up. My next phone will certainly not be a Motorola.

The new Phischphone

So earlier this week, I decided I had had enough. The Sony Ericsson T616 was obviously having issues with its Bluetooth hardware, as it continued to drop connections with a brand-new Sony Ericsson Akono HBH-602 Bluetooth headset. It is very frustrating to be in the middle of a conversation with someone, then suddenly you can't hear them and they can barely hear you, because the phone dropped the Bluetooth connection with the headset, and picked up the call itself. And the phone is in one of the cargo pockets of your shorts.

I stopped by my local Cingular Wireless store, where I have always gotten excellent customer service, and the sales guys know what they're talking about. I extolled my tale of Bluetooth woe to one of the guys, and informed him I was in the market for a new phone.

First, the bad news:

The way Cingular works its contracts is that you are locked in to that contract. There's no coming in and getting a new phone with a new contract, unless you want to pay the termination fee, which runs between $125-200, if memory serves. Thanks, but no thanks. If I wanted a new phone, I would have to pay full price.

Now, the good news:

I have insurance on my phone. My phone is damaged. The Bluetooth hardware is flawed. I can file a claim, and for $50, receive, within two business days, a new, comparable phone. (Didn't I tell you these guys provide excellent customer service? Pity more wireless shops, including other Cingular stores, aren't this on top of things.)

I was told it was unlikely I would get another T616. The sales rep and I were both hopeful I would get a Sony Ericsson T637, which was the model replacement for the T616.

So Tuesday evening I called up the third-party insurance provider Cingular uses, filed my claim, agreed to the $50 charge to my next monthly statement, and was told they did not have any comparable Sony Ericsson phones available to ship. My heart began to sink. I was getting a Motorola v551, the most popular phone in Cingular's line-up, according to the rep on the phone.

The phone arrived at 3:30 PM CST on Wednesday. Overall, I'm pretty happy with it, though the druthers I do have ensure I will not be getting another Moto phone in February, when I am "eligible to upgrade" with Cingular. (At the 21-month mark of a two-year contract, Cingular is then willing to sign you up for a new contract, and you can get a new phone.) Full impressions, and the aforementioned druthers, on the phone in an upcoming post.

Wherefore art thou, Bluetooth headset?

Great. After multiple usage so far today, it would appear the aforementioned problems with my Akono headset were not the fault of the headset at all. (Still, mucho kudos to SE for the replacement; at least this helps clear it up.) It looks like the problem is indeed with my T616. The phone is out of warranty. This is, as the Fontosaurus would say, the suck.

Sony Ericsson rocks

More than a month ago, my Sony Ericsson Akono HBH-602 Bluetooth Headset stopped syncing with my T616. I could get it to connect to the phone via Bluetooth, but the BT connection would drop out randomly, and often. I finally got around to calling SE tech support on this issue. I told them I was sure it was the headset, not my phone, as I had no issues syncing the T616 via Bluetooth to my PowerBook or Cube.

I was issued a RMA number, and given an address in the DFW metroplex to ship the headset to. "Just the headset, please," is what the rep on the phone told me. No problem. Just the headset. This, of course, happened just before the long July 4th weekend, when we were traveling to and from New Orleans, so I didn't actually ship the headset out until Friday the 8th.

Today, my replacement headset arrived, via FedEx. Not only did my replacement headset arrive, but I got the entire headset kit! In other words, they just pulled a retail box off the shelf and shipped it to me. So I got an extra AC adapter--that works with the T616 phone, too--and some more of the color plates, which I won't use. (I stick with the silver.) Kudos to Sony Ericsson!

iSync 2.1 breaks T616 synchronization, sort of

After reading Colin Robertson's report that his Sony Ericsson T616 would no longer sync with his PowerBook via iSync, I set out to test this myself, since I have the same phone.

I have a 12-inch, 1 GHz PowerBook running Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.1, and I had just installed iSync 2.1 yesterday when it was released by Apple. It was then that I noticed I hadn't synced my PowerBook with the phone in a while, though the 'Book had synced with .Mac.

When I attempted to sync the two devices, iSync told me it was unable to do so with the T616. I decided to remove it as a device, then re-add it. iSync picked up the phone during its device scan, but informed me it would be unable to sync with it.

I then turned to my other Mac, a 450 MHz Cube still running 10.3.9. I added the phone to the older version of iSync installed there, and it synchronized with no problem.

About half an hour later, I decided to revisit the PowerBook's iSync version, and this time, the software recognized the phone, added it as a device, and synchronized with it. Since then, after making minor modifications to some contacts, I have made two more successful syncs with the T616. It would appear one simply needs to remove the device from iSync, wait a bit, then add it again.

Mobile CD Lookup

Jon has provided a great way to look up CD info on Amazon. I've already got it bookmarked in my mobile.

Frank-ly speaking on the Treo 650

Steven Frank is going to have me lusting after the Treo 650 again.

MT turns two

No, not that MT. My pal Jon's MobileTracker celebrated its second year of publication today. Congratulations, Mr. Gales!

Introducing the rotary cell phone

As you hearken back to yesteryear, longing for those good ol' Luddite days, please note that you too can build a rotary cell phone. [Via Lawson via Slashdot.]

SE T616 anyone?

So my wife decided to take the plunge, switched her phone service to the new Crackberry her employer purchased for her, and we now have a SIM card-less, Cingular-branded, Sony Ericsson T616 that no one is using. I realize it's an old phone, but will entertain offers before deciding to either donate it or keep it around as a spare to mine.

Which BT headset?

Increasingly, I am finding that it would be easier to have a Bluetooth headset for use with my Sony Ericsson T616. I'm currently leaning toward either the Motorola HS810, or the Sony Ericsson HBH-65. My wife uses the latter, and is happy with it. I would appreciate comments from BT headset users out there. (Get over the TypeKey registration, already. My comment spam has already dropped to nil.) I have yet to find overly negative reviews of either headset online, so unbiased comments from users are extremely valuable.

Treo 650 official

After months of leaked photos and specs, PalmOne has officially announced the Treo 650 smartphone, available some time in the coming months from various carriers. MacMinute has an overview of the new features. This is what I covet for my birthday and Christmas.

Pool tunes

I have an Onkyo SE-U55 USB Digital Audio Processor hooked up to my Power Mac G4 Cube. This allows me to run all Cube audio through my Aiwa shelf stereo system (which happens to reside on my desk instead of a shelf). My wife and I have been wanting to get some speakers for use on the patio and by the pool, preferably wireless. We picked up a pair at The Sharper Image, and the set includes a 900 MHz transmitter. The transmitter plugs in to the headphone jack on the front of the Onkyo. This allows us to hear the audio on the Aiwa's speakers as well. So, for the pool party this Saturday, we will have iTunes playing the party mix on the Cube, and getting tunes out by the pool, without having to have the beloved iPod within drenching distance. (Yes, I know this could have been accomplished via Airport Express, but I would still have to have the speakers for outside, and in this instance, the transmitter was included.) But we're not done yet... Now we have Salling Clicker installed on the Cube, and synced with my Sony Ericsson T616 via Bluetooth. I can now control iTunes remotely with my phone, so long as I'm within thirty feet of the Bluetooth adapter hanging off the back of my Cube. The study, where said Cube is located, is in the back corner of the house, just outside of which is the patio and pool. Now I'm thinking of other possibilities. My clock radio has a crappy cassette deck built in to it, but I could put one of the speakers next to my nightstand. A cron job could start playing iTunes in the morning at the appointd time. And before you can say, "No snooze bar," don't forget about the phone! Just hit the appropriate control key for "Pause." This is how technology is supposed to work: enriching our lives, making it easier to accomplish a goal or dream, no matter how simple--or simple-minded--those might be.

Mobile round-up

The coming months will bear fruit for those in the market for the latest and greatest in mobile phones, as evidenced by the n3rdling's look at upcoming phone releases in the U.S.

Joining the Cingular Nation

So at the end of May, my wife and I made the switch. With number portability well in hand, and no loyalty to Verizon Wireless since the parent company laid me off, I was looking for great coverage and a great phone. For me, a great phone meant one that I could sync with my Mac. I had hoped to purchase a Treo 600, but our finances dictated paring my desires. With a $100 rebate, and the phone only costing $100 with a 2-year contract, I went with my second choice, the Sony Ericsson T610. Our plan is pretty kick-butt: we share 800 minutes between two phones, no roaming, no long distance, unlimited mobile-to-mobile, unlimited nights and weekends. And I have a phone that syncs with my PowerBook via Bluetooth. I had my contact info and calendar synced to the phone about ten minutes after taking it out of the box. Drove my wife, a Windows user, crazy. My only druther with the T610 thus far is that the contact file only holds phone numbers. It would have been nice to get everything from my Address Book contacts in there, but thus far I'm not missing them that much. And they are in the iPod, which is nearly with me all the time any way. My wife added the Sony Ericsson HBH-65 Bluetooth headset, which has made her life much easier on the road, and I plan to obtain one soon as well. Finally, the decision to go with Cingular indirectly benefits my dad, who works for Bellsouth, and my uncle, who is retired from the same company. All in all, we're very happy with the decision thus far!

VZW to carry Treo 600!

w00t! So perhaps I won't switch wireless carriers after all. It's not like I can do anything right now anyway, being unemployed and all...

Perfect PDAs

Still leaning toward the Treo 600 myself, I wholeheartedly agree with Steven Frank's latest perfect PDA ponderings.

Bye-bye, Palm

So PalmSource has decided to discontinue Mac support in upcoming versions of the Palm OS, despite the fact that they have a larger market share percentage-wise in the Macintosh side of the computing world than out. Mac users will be left to third-party solutions to sync future Palm devices with their Macintosh systems, costing us more money. Palm Desktop (which Palm bought from Apple as Claris Organizer) will no longer be updated. Last night, I migrated all of my Palm Desktop data to Address Book, iCal, and BBEdit-created text files. I then proceeded to use iSync to sync my contact and calendar info,first on my iPod, then to my .Mac account, the latter of which was a first for me. I then synced my new-to-me, work-provided 1.42 GHz dual-G4 to my .Mac account, so that my Address Book info and Safari bookmarks matched with those on my Cube. All syncs worked without any problems, just as they should. I have been debating over what kind of phone to move to. My wife's law firm makes extensive use of the Blackberry RIMs amongst the attorneys, and she will be getting one soon, with service through T-Mobile. I had been considering the Treo 600, but now I'm not so sure. I may go with the Sony-Ericsson T630 when U.S. providers begin carrying it over the next month or two. I don't think Address Book and iCal will fill all of my PIM needs; I already feel like I'm going to butt against the limits of the applications, and am looking at alternatives. For now, however, Palm no longer has a place on my systems' desktops.