28 October 2006

HTC S620 Excalibur

Introducing... the HTC S620 Excalibur. I was fed up with my previous mobile and tired of carrying around a PDA to keep track of all my appointments, contacts, and notes. I thought it would be more convenient to only have to carry one device around so I started looking into smartphones.

I wanted something that could comfortably fit in my pocket, with a full QWERTY keyboard, quad-band GSM, MP camera, and could easily synchronize with Microsoft Outlook. Treos are nice, but they're big with an external antenna (though it looks like that will soon change). I'd basically given up on finding something because everything I saw failed my 'size' requirement. Then... the Motorola Q arrived. I would have snapped this up if it had been GSM--but no... it's with Verizon.

I started paying attention to technology sites/blogs like CNET and Brighthand to keep up to date on soon-to-be released models. I read about the Blackberry Pearl carried by T-Mobile. However, it didn't have a full QWERTY, and I had reservations about the trackball. That's when I read about the T-Mobile Dash. It met all of my requirements, in particular reviews described the call-quality as very good--an important consideration as that would be its primary function. Unfortunately, right now it's only at T-Mobile, and I'm still under contract with Cingular.

I looked into what T-Mobile was asking, and whether it was unlocked. It wasn't. T-Mobile would only unlock the Dash after 3-months of a contract, or if I bought the phone full-price without a contract. Hmmm... I thought about the latter option, but it peeved me that even if I bought a Dash without contract it would still have T-Mobile branding and whatever software/alterations they put on it.

Never say never. I searched various places on-line to see if any unlocked Dashes were being offered. It turns out the T-Mobile Dash is a modified HTC S620 Excalibur. Retailers were offering the Excalibur (unlocked) at a significantly higher price than T-Mobile, but after much thought I decided this was the way I would go. I ordered an Excalibur last week and it arrived a few days ago.

Wow! Simply amazing! First, I had read about the physical dimensions (S620 specifications) but it didn't really sink in how small it is until I held it in my hands. Here's a picture of the S620 beside a AAA battery.

I should note that in the picture at the top of this post, the display is much brighter and vibrant in person (my camera flash kind of bled out the screen). The HTC S620 met all of my major requirements: good call quality, GSM, MP camera, QWERTY keyboard, small size, and synchronized with Outlook--with one caveat. Despite what it says on the T-Mobile website, this device does *not* synch with Outlook Notes. The way I worked around this was to convert my Notes into Contacts, which does synch.

Today I tried connecting the S620 to my computer using a USB-Bluetooth adapter, but eventually I gave up. I'm blaming this on my lack of experience with Bluetooth rather than on the S620. Regardless, Bluetooth and WiFi were never on my 'must have' list.

It's only been a few days but so far I'm extremely pleased with my purchase. Now I'm just waiting for someone to come out with a good case for the S620. I picked up one from T-Mobile as a stop-gap measure, but I prefer a horizontal holster rather than a vertical one.

Canucks 3, Capitals 2 (SO)

Great game! If it hadn't been for the Capitals' two-man advantage late in the 2nd the Canucks would have ran away with this one. I have a little sympathy for the Capitals, though. The way Morrison's goal in the shoot-out squeezed through the goalie's pads must have been heart-breaking. Ha ha! :o)

I'm especially glad the Canucks won and that Luongo was playing, and that I had a chance to see a shoot-out. Why am I glad? Because this is their only contest in the regular season, last night's game was probably my only chance to watch the Canucks on television. :o( I hope I'm wrong--maybe Comcast will televise other games when the Canucks play other Eastern Conference teams, but I'm not optimistic.

Anywhoo, if this turns out to be the only Canuck game I see this season... at least we won!

22 October 2006

And then there was one

It was only a matter of time, unfortunately, but recently two of my valve stem caps were stolen--both from the rear. This wasn't the first time, either. Let's see, over two years ago I started with four .:R-line valve stem caps from the .:R accessories kit. Roughly one year later I was down to two, joined by two VW valve stem caps I purchased at a local dealership. Now I'm down to one .:R-line cap remaining. At first I thought the thief had taken both of them, but no, he/she took one .:R-line and one VW cap. Oh well. I guess I'll see how long they last this time. :o(

21 October 2006

Handys and upgrading

For reasons I can no longer fathom, when I last purchased a handy I stuck myself with a two-year contract with Cingular. So I was understandably excited when I learned of a thing called "upgrading". What's this, I can upgrade my handy before my contract expires? Great! I actually marked down the date I was eligible for an upgrade on my Outlook Tasks.

Silly me, I'd erroneously assumed that "upgrading" was a special feature Cingular offered to current customers to entice them to remain in the fold. Well, upgrade day arrived and I went to a local outlet only to have my hopes and expectations crushed. Turns out that upgrading is not so special.

Sure, I could get a new phone before my current contract expires--except that I'd need to have a new contract. It was naive of me to expect otherwise, I guess, but hope springs eternal. Oh yeah, and the price I'd pay--with contract--is exactly the same price I'd pay if I had been a completely new customer. So, as I said... not so special. What's the advantage of upgrading? I'd get a new phone, save about $18 dollars on an activation fee... and get stuck with another contract.

I see this as just another example of big business milking their consumer herd until dessication. Rather than reward customers for staying, they encourage them to extend their contract. This is not establishing customer loyalty... it's nothing but a cruel facsimile. It's more like establishing indentured consumers. Caveat Emptor.

20 October 2006

Goodbye, hard-earned cash

Impulse buying? I hope not. Although I made my decisions in short order, I think the intensity of my research prior to purchasing outweighed the relatively limited time scale. Anywhoo, more info when my orders arrive. :o)

Rhetorical question: why would anyone actually want to buy anything at an actual store? Online stores have never charged me sales tax.

09 October 2006

My mild mortification (aka dead battery update)

Hmmm, see something out of place in this picture?

I took the above picture after having had to replace my R's battery due to a dead fuel cell (you can read in detail about my lost day here) back in mid-August. At the time I'd noted that my battery cover no longer sat correctly despite it being a VW OEM replacement, but after an already frustrating day I left it at that.

If you need a clue, it's in the top right corner of the picture. See it, yet? :o) I can't believe I missed it. It's had to have been sitting above the CAI since mid-August. I only discovered it yesterday, and it's not like I haven't popped the hood--several times--since replacing the battery to check on various fluid levels. Talk about embarrassing! I'd say I need new glasses, but I recently bought a new pair so that's not a viable excuse. Wangos!

Here's a full picture of what I was blind to:

Here's a picture of it installed...

... and with the battery cover properly in place:

Ugh. Anywhoo, more pics and information here. I thought Pepboys (Booooo!) could handle something as simple as replacing a battery, but they certainly proved me wrong. I should have suspected something when Pepboys informed me there was no alternative to getting a VW OEM battery for the R.

08 October 2006

Oblivious, or inconsiderate?

This morning I intentionally woke up early. It being the Columbus Day long weekend, I was in a particularly fine fettle, looking forward to a relaxing day, and a pleasant cruise in the R after washing and waxing it. My positive mood was shattered when I discovered *two* decrepit vehicles parked *on* the community water hose. Not, one, but *two* separate vehicles. Wangos!

With my sunny outlook rapidly changing to match the pre-dawn light, I stepped out of the R for a closer look. Whew! The hose was merely wrapped around a tire of one car. Gentle tugging freed it. Not so with the rusting blue minivan--its passenger front tire sat squarely on the hose. No amount of tugging would do (believe me, I tried). Wangos!!

Were my neighbours ignorant of what they'd done? Not only the drivers of the cursed vehicles, but whoever had left the hose laying on the pavement? Or did the drivers see that they had parked on the hose, but just didn't care?

Anywhoo, I decided to take the R to a DIY carwash (Ugh. What a rip-off. I'd forgotten how expensive it was to purchase barely enough water to wash a hatchback) rather than wait for the driver of said minivan--did I mention it was rusting, decrepit, and cursed?--to wake up and move the stupid thing.

Driving away, I congratulated myself on managing to leave a polite post-it note (Please and thank-you!) requesting the driver avoid parking on the hose in the future.

06 October 2006

Captain Kirk nostalgia

Er, no, not Captain James T. Kirk, but Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks. I still have fond memories of watching the Canucks' playoff run in 1994, backstopped by McLean, who played a significant role in taking the team to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals. I miss those good old days. A lot of changes have occured since then (though Linden is still here!), but ever since McLean's heydays in Vancouver I've always felt that the Canucks' goaltending has been shaky, particularly in the playoffs (if they even made it past the regular season). Hopefully Luongo will change that.

Anywhoo, what bought this on? I was reading an article on CNN.com in which the writer's opinion of McLean resembled my own. Who'd of thunk it? McLean is currently number 12 on the 50 Greatest Canucks: Hall of Fame list. Kirk McLean is the "Canucks’ all time career leader among goalies in virtually all netminding categories, including shutouts (20) and wins (211)." Not bad, eh?

Site visitors in September 2006

Top 5 visitors in September 2006, listed by country:

1) United States,
2) Great Britain,
3) Canada,
4) Australia,
5) Netherlands.

The full list for September 2006 is here. Data for previous months can be found by clicking on this link.