Sunday, June 29, 2008

BIRT: BIRT 2.3 is out

The next release of BIRT, 2.3, is out. Check it out:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Phone: Verizon XV6900

So, I had an unfortunate situation with my old Motorola Razr, where the speaker stopped working and I couldn’t hear anything, so it was time for a new phone. My requirements were simple, I needed to be able to tether, sync with Outlook to retire my existing PDA, and something that I could play Chess on.

What I ended up with was the HTC XV8900 from Verizon. I refused to leave Verizon, although I am still tempted to get an iPhone, I just can’t stomach AT&T’s coverage. So far it is a decision I have been very happy with. I won’t review it since there are plenty off reviews about this phone out there, so I’ll just share my thoughts on it. First off, it uses a touch interface for everything, so no slideout QWERTY keyboard or anything of that nature for quick texting, which is fine because I seem to be of a generation before texting became popular. Besides, that’s one of the things that makes the iPhone so stylish, and I agree with the “no buttons” philosophy to an extent. I have a portable Bluetooth foldout keyboard, so I’d rather have a fullsize keyboard for any serious typing than the crappy keyboards they have on phones. I did have to hack the keyboard a little since it was a HP Foldout Bluetooth keyboard and used some sort of proprietary driver, but thanks to a nice fellow from Africa, I have a workable solution.

After a few modifications, I have a really nice “Slide to Unlock” option that mimics the iPhones, with the Caller ID mimicking it as well. Outside of that, the other features, such as web browsing, media, camera, are pretty much there, so anything an iPhone can do, I can do on this thing since Windows Mobile devices have been doing these things since before I got my WM 2003 device.

Outlook syncing hasn’t changes since my WM2003 device, except now I have it on my phone, and I can check my email when I am out and about. The only issue is Activesync considers my “Outlook Email” separate from my two email accounts, so when I sync up, it wont sync mail that is checked already on the phone. A little annoying, so I have it configured not to delete messages on the phone when checked. If I ran an Exchange server, I could use the Push option, which I’m sure Blackberry users are all too familiar with, but I’m lazy and don’t want to configure an Exchange server just for this purpose.

While stylish, and features that do just about everything I need, there are a few gripes about this device. 1st, since it is a Windows Mobile device, the ever present X does not close applications annoyance is there. While HTC includes a quick link in the top right corner to kill all applications, its still annoying. Also annoying is the fact that TouchFlo is always present. I wanted to give Spb mobile shell a try, but I don’t want to run that AND touchflo at the same time. Even after I kill all the TouchFlo apps, it still manages to start itself if I do a finger gesture or pen swipe from the bottom to the top of the screen. Also, the paltry 512 flashram is laughable compared to the 16 Gb you can get on other phones. I had to purchase a separate MicroSD card to compensate. Also annoying is the fact that the memory usage is not configurable. On my older WM2003 device, I could allocate memory for storage or applications running, on this device that doesn’t seem to e an option. With the MicroSD card, why would I want to use the precious flashram to store apps when I don’t have to? Also, I had a hard time finding a case to fit the device. Verizon only offered a silicone slip cover for the phone, so I had to put on a screen protector, and find a 3rd part case. So the case I have is slightly larger than the phone itself, and it’s a little gangly. I’ll have to keep my eye out for a more easily accessible case for this phone.

Overall, I am happy with the phone though. It does everything my old hacked Razr did, plus more. No more crappy, hard to read, mobile web, I have the same games, tethering capability, plus a suite of mobile office applications to use with my Bluetooth keyboard, a media device, movies, and games.