HP Buys Palm. Yawn

Today, in response to the news that HP has bought Palm, Futurelawyer said:

There was a time when I salivated at every new Palm product, and greedily grabbed one for myself. There was a time when a Palm was part of my wardrobe, and accompanied me every waking moment. But, alas, time marches on. Old friends die. Sometimes, they get sold to a new owner, and die with a barely audible whimper.


My Latest Acquisition: Samsung P2570HD

I have written before about how I believe multiple monitors can improve your efficiency. Last week I was working at home and the second monitor I had was not cutting it. The resolution did not allow me to see enough to work properly. Consequently, I jumped on to Amazon and started checking out their monitor selection. At the office I have two external monitors. For the house, however, I decided to go with one, larger monitor. Thus I picked up this beauty.

Samsung MonitorIt is a Samsung P2570HD. Basically, I just picked up a 24.6 inch monitor that doubles a TV, if I want it to. The picture has the monitor next to my laptop for comparison’s sake.

The reviews on Amazon were pretty good and I have to echo those. It is a beautiful monitor that works really well. (I have not tried using it as a television yet). The picture is nice and clear and it displays two pages side by side in Word just beautifully.

If you are looking for a larger monitor, you could certainly do a lot worse than this one. Do check the prices on this, however. The price Amazon has is currently more than what I paid for it. However, you can buy it from J&R (through Amazon) right now for slightly less than what I paid for it.

Motorola Droid

I have used a Palm based PDA since I entered private practice in 2000. I started with a black & white Handspring Visor.  I then moved on to a Prism. I played with a Palm T|X for a review (and loved it), then moved on to a Treo 600, then a Treo 650, and finally a Treo 755p. I was excited when I saw Palm announce the Pre, then highly disappointed when I discovered that it was initially available only on Sprint’s network.

I have been waiting for more than a year to upgrade my phone to something I like better. The 755 was getting a little slow, but I just didn’t see anything that caught my eye. At least not until the Droid was unveiled. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a Droid and jettisoned my Palm devices. Coincidentally, the week that I got my Dorid was the week that Palm finally made the Pre and Pixi available with Verizon. My response to learning this was much the same as Futurelawyer’s, who said:

If you had told me a year ago that Palm’s new handsets, the Pre and the Pixie, would be finally available for sale on Verizon Wireless today, and that they would be able to be turned, with software, into WiFi hotspots that could support up to five users at a time, I would be jumping for joy, chomping at the bit, ready to stand in line. Today, I am not impressed. Why? Well, in the year that Palm shot itself in the foot by tying its great new handsets to Sprint, the worst cell company in the world, the other manufacturers haven’t been sleeping. Android has matured into a mobile OS that really gets the job done, and the new OLED screens are big and sharp and beautiful.

If the Pre had been available with Verizon a year ago, I would have snatched it up. Palm did me a favor, however. The joined forces with Sprint, thus allowing me to save my money for a year and pick up the Droid now. I have had it for just over a week, and I love it.

The screen is big, beautiful, and responsive. My wife has a Blackberry Storm, and I find my Droid screen much more responsive than that found on the Storm. Additionally, the available apps are plentiful and easily installed. I have received good reception on the phone and it’s wi-fi easily connects to any network I have tried. Further, I love the integration between it and Google Voice. In sum, there is a lot to love about this phone.

Is it perfect? Of course not. I am not thrilled with the sync options available to sync contacts and calendar. I have tried some third party apps for the synching as well and I am just not pleased with any of the results. On the other hand, I hold out hope that better options are coming. In the meantime, what I have works just fine. I just wish it worked better.

I guess what I am saying is Palm: So long. I knew you well. However, I am now practicing law with a Droid, and loving every minute of it.

Multiple Monitors: Are They Good For Everyone?

I am big fan of using multiple monitors. I find that it increases my productivity, especially when I am doing research or drafting. At my office, I use a three monitor setup. At home, I use a two monitor setup.

My monitors at the office

Recently, however, I read a post from Lawyerist.com in which the attorney tried a multiple monitor setup and did not like it. He explains:

At first, I used the second monitor just for email, so I could work on the other screen. Bad idea. Having email open all the time is the ultimate attention diverter. At time I felt like I was watching paint dry, just waiting for another email to come in. Big waste of time.

Then I switched to using the second monitor as my “always” calendar. That was nice and convenient, but again, a big attention waster and a waste of a monitor.

Using the two monitors to view two documents was not all that helpful either. One, the monitors were different sizes, different resolutions, and had different contrasts. I found myself comparing the two monitors constantly, rather than actually getting work done.

I agree that using the second monitor just to check email is not a good idea. That really makes you a slave to your email. However, I do often use the monitor for my calendar and contacts, so they are convenient. On suggestion I would make, however, is try and make sure that your additional monitors are the same shape and size (the same model is actually ideal). As the author noted, using monitors with different resolutions can be very distracting.

The author concludes:

I have been using one boring monitor for two months now, and I love it. Two monitors may impress people, but when it comes to actually using them, it is not worth the trouble or the cost.

I don’t agree with this conclusion. Multiple monitors are worth the trouble and the cost; at least for some people. Not everyone will benefit from using multiple monitors. I don’t find this unusual. Instead, I find it normal. Different people use their computers differently. The fact that I (and many others) find multiple monitors useful, does not mean that everyone will. However, I would suggest that, if you have not tried multiple monitors yet, don’t let the post dissuade you. Give them a try.

I have talked with several people about using multiple monitors. I have yet to have any of them tell me that they regretted making the move.

Comcast Continues to Confuse Me

I recently wrote about how we had switched our home phone to Comcast Digital Voice, we didn’t like the service and we were switching back to Vonage. Switching back is a fairly simple process, we simply contact Vonage and have them start the process to port the number back to Vonage.

While this is going on, we are getting inundated with communications from Comcast telling us that we have to have a digital converter box for every television in our house or we will be unable to watch certain channels. Despite the number of communications, I have yet to find anything that actually explains what change Comcast is making and why it requires me to have digital converter boxes. It’s not a huge deal because they will provide them to me at no additional charge. (I will note that, once I hook up the converter box, my HD TV will no longer be able to pull the HD feeds from the local stations that it currently pulls off the cable connection. Make of that what you will).

Anyway, I call Comcast and order the additional converter boxes that I need. A few days later I receive a call from Comcast. The caller tells me that because I have placed an order to port my telephone number to a different service, they cannot place an order on my account to deliver the additional cable equipment to me. Instead, once my number is ported, I should call back and order the equipment again. WTF?

Unfortunately, I missed the call, so all I have is a message. Thus, I could not ask the person to explain this. Does anyone have any conceivable explanation for how this can be? It makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

My number was ported on Monday. I called that afternoon and ordered the equipment again. However, I am still confused.

First Thing: Reboot

I was going to go into a long involved story about what happened to me this morning. However, I decided that this is much more simple. If you are having a problem with your computer. Do not contact your IT person about the problem until you have at least rebooted the computer once. Why? Because that is the first thing I (and everyone else I know) is going to have you do.

Reboot. If you still have the problem after rebooting, then contact someone.

Ted Kennedy & FedEx

I noticed that yesterday, while I was complaining about the Comcast installer stealing my cable modem, Adrian at The Nutmeg Lawyer was fondly remembering his encounters with Ted Kennedy. I laughed out loud when I read about Adrian calling Ted Kennedy “Baby.” If you have not read his post, you have to go here and read it.

On a completely unrelated note, I also enjoyed Ken Adams’ post in which he has decided to refer to companies such as FedEx as “nationally recognized express transportation compan[ies]” in future contracts.

Vonage v. Comcast Voice: There is No Contest

We have had Vonage for our home telephone service since November 29, 2003. From then until now, I have loved it.The service has been consistently good, I have never had any problems, and the features are great. Our two favorite features were the silmuring feature, which allows any call to the house to also ring my wife’s cell phone, and the voicemail feature, which automatically emails a wav file of any received voicemail to us.

Recently, in an effort to reduce costs, we opted to switch our phone service to Comcast Digital Voice, as part of their Triple Play bundle. For some reason, I was expecting similar service. I was wrong.

First, although Comcast offers call forwarding, it does not offer simulring. Inquiries with Comcast have revealed that they have no intention of offering simulring in the foreseeable future. Fine, I knew this going in, I just didn’t expect the call forwarding to be as difficult to remember to do as it has become. This has made us realize how simple and easy to use simulring has been. If this were the only problem, however, we would probably stick it out with Comcast.

However, the voicemail system is awful. First, when we receive a voicemail,  we  get a voicemail from Comcast telling us that we have received a voicemail. Unlike with Vonage, we do not get an audio copy of the voicemail. We just get a notification that we have a voicemail. We actually have to go to Comcast’s website to listen to the voicemail. This is a problem for two reasons.

First, getting an email with the voicemail attachment is quite convenient when we are away from the house. We can retrieve the voicemail in our email and listen to it with our smartphone, all with just a couple of clicks. With Comcast, however, we have to go from the email, to Comcast’s website to access the voicemail. This is a convoluted process and there is no reason for it. Second, the link in the Comcast email that is supposed to take us to the voicemail, never does. After we click on the link, we always have to end up manually signing into Comcast’s webpage to find and access the voicemail.

That brings me to the next complaint that I have. The webpage is terrible to try to navigate. When I first set up the service I had to go to multiple pages to set my preferences for my account. There is no easy way to get around and the titles for the various sections don’t really relate to what is going on in that section of the webpage. The one thing Comcast has done with their webpage is ensure that I truly appreciate the simplicity and easy navigation offered by Vonage’s webpage.

If all of this were not bad enough, I suffered a final indignity at the hands of Comcast. When Comcast came and installed our service and one of their cable modems (we have to use a Comcast modem because it also has the telephone ports on it), the installer stole my cable modem. He didn’t even ask if the modem was mine or if I was renting one from Comcast. He just walked off with my cable modem. I am still flabbergasted by this.

In sum, we switched our home phone service to Comcast for less than a month. Despite the savings, we are in the process of switching that service back to Vonage. I know that not everyone is thrilled with Vonage, so your mileage may vary. For me and my house, however, there is no contest.

Yes! A New Convert

When I find someone else who has converted to a multiple monitor set up, I feel a completely irrational rush of happiness. No, there is no rational explanation for this. However, multiple monitors provide such an efficiency boost that I think everyone should use them.

Recently, The Greatest American Lawyer has started drinking the Kool Aid. As Enrico explains:

I’m quite ashamed to say that, for all of my talk about being a high-tech law firm, I am only now setting up two monitors for my laptop computer at work.  There is no doubt, no controversy and no contrary argument to the simple fact that two monitors are better than one.Two monitors all you to eliminate the amount of scrolling and window switching and allows you to mix and match your browsers as well as help organize your desktop and increase productivity.

He even provides some links to articles from PC World, CNN Money and others that extol the virtues of using multiple monitors.

Isn’t it time for you to upgrade to multiple monitors? Come on, all of the cool kids are doing it.

Just because I happened to have my camera with me, below is a picture of my multiple monitor set up.


A Primer on Netbooks

One piece of computer equipment that people have been talking about a lot lately are netbooks. These are ultra-portable laptop computers that combine the power of a laptop with ultra convenient portability. Many people have questions regarding what netbooks are and how they differ from laptops. Ross Kodner has posted an overview of netbooks that provides a short primer on what they are and what the differing options are. For example, Ross explains:

  • Netbooks ARE laptops! They can do everything any laptop can do BECAUSE THEY ARE LAPTOPS!
  • Netbooks are just a category, like ultralights, powerlights, gaming laptops, business laptops, desktop replacements, etc. etc.
  • Netbooks have to be viewed individually to look at the specs involved, just as with any new system being considered – while there are certain very common specs, others can vary such as storage situation, operating system, and screen size
  • A very common “standard” specification for many currently available netbooks, regardless of vendor is 10″ diagonal (actually either 10.1″ or 10.2″ if you want to be precise) display, 1 Gb RAM standard (usually upgrade to 2 Gb by replacing the single standard DIMM – often for around $25 from suppliers like crucial.com), Windows XP Home, 160 Gb drive (although 250 Gb drives are just starting to appear), Intel Atom N270 single-core processor, Intel graphics chipset, 6 cell battery good for anywhere from 3-10 hours depending on model/vendor, and about 2.5 to 3.5 lbs. Also no optical drives included (CD/DVD) so plan on $35-$85 for an external slimline USB CD or DVD burner (mine is a DVD burner I bought new on eBay last Fall for $55 shipped) so you can load disc-based software.

Check out Ross’s post for all of the details that he provides. If you are considering buying a netbook, Ross’s post is a great place to start your research.