Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Update on my Herniated Disk

At this point I am able to work full days, exercise, basically do whatever I want. I have occasional flashes of pain in my shoulder and arm, but not too bad. I rarely, if ever, take any pain medication anymore.

I had a consultation with a neurosurgeon a couple of weeks ago, who told me that with this much recovery I'm not a good candidate for surgery anymore, or even for cortisone shots. Basically, I should try all my old activities and if they hurt, don't do them.

I can live with this!

Return to Nokia 9500 Place

I recently sold my Sprint Treo 650 and bought a GSM/EDGE Nokia 9500 Communicator.

You can't go home again.

Just before I was hired by Neomorphic I was the IT manager at a startup just across the street from Neomorphic in Berkeley. In these early days of digital phones I had the Nokia 9100il Communicator; limited to 9600 baud networking over the phone, and not really much bigger than other digital phones of the time. I had many a pleasant hour with my Communicator laying on the grass in Aquatic Park, reconfiguring and doing remote maintenance on my Linux servers.

Later, I sold the device but never upgraded to other Communicators because Nokia was so slow to move to modern phone services such as GPRS, at least with the Communicator. Therefore, I hopped onto the Handspring Treo wagon, first with a B&W Treo 180, then the Treo 600, then the Treo 650. They all had their limitations, but the 650 is a very powerful and elegant device, third generation Treo hardware, and most of the problems with earlier phones have been fixed.

I enjoyed my Sprint Treo 650, despite the slow and patchy service (although not slow compared to my old Communicator!) but eventually the latest Communicator, the 9500, was released, and was significantly smaller than the old ones but still supported the wonderful flip-open 640x200 coloer display, so handy for SSH sessions (although there are several free SSH clients for the Treo 6x0, they are all extremely difficult to read). I was also interested in moving from CDMA to EDGE, as it should provide a significant boost in data performance. Also, I just wanted to shake things up a bit ;)

So, I put in bids on two Nokia 9500's on Ebay, just to make certain I'd get at least one. Unfortunately, I got both of them. I ended up having to sell one of them immediately; however, they both looked and worked fine.

Then I tried to get back into the swing with the Communicator, but eventually the poor design just got to me. Not necessarily the phone itself, although it was so big and bulky compared to the Treo that I never really got used to it. However, little things mean a lot to a Mac user ;)

1. It is underpowered. Symbian is a nice multitasking OS, but it took between 30 and 60 seconds just to open the RealPlayer application; the 100 Mhz or so processor was just not up to the tasks.
2. The audio connector (the so-called "Pop Port") is really terrible; the connector falls out very easily and yet is very difficult to reconnect. You need an expensive adaptor from Nokia just to plug in a pair of regular headphones. Besides that, the audio adaptor is noisy on my car radio.
3. The headphones I bought with the built in FM were only stereo for radio broadcasts, not for internal audio! Plus, the cable is all wrong; the little FM tuner on it is kind of heavy and clumsy, it needs to be attached to something. However, the lower part of the cord is too short to allow it to be clipped to a colllar, and the upper part is too short to allow it to be attached to a belt. It would only be tolerable if you had a shirt with buttons, which I rarely do.
3. RealPlayer didn't recover well from dropouts.
4. No streaming MP3 player I could find.
5. Dataviz, to access an MS Activesync server, was $100 extra at least, whereas that funtionality is built in to a Treo (however poorly).
6. No eReader (for e-books). Although there is a version of eReader for Symbian 60, it doesn't work for Symbian Series 80 (Communicator). I hadn't realized that Symbian wasn't Symbian Everywhere. I'm used to being able to carry books around.
7. No Audible for Symbian (yet).
8. It's just too big. It is not comfortable carrying in a pocket, and Nokia's holster, which you have to purchase separately, is terrible.

Finally, it was just too much; I went back to the Treo, this time on Cingular's EDGE (enhanced GPRS) network and it works much nicer than Sprint; fewer dropouts and much faster connections and downloads. I learned my lesson.