Technical Difficulties from on Top of the Mountain
  Treo 650 vs 755.
When I first discovered the treo, I was very excited. I almost went out and got a 600, but came to my senses and waited for the 650. The 600 was low tech compared to the 650. The 650 had a 320x320 screen with lots of colors, a decent processor, a SD card slot, an improved keyboard and so on and so forth. When I got it I immediately set out to figure out how I could use it.

I was able to stuff quite a few programs on it, and tried to use it as often as I could. One problem was that cell reception wasn't very good at my house, so I couldn't use it much in the house, which was a little annoying, because I worked at home. So it wasn't very useful as a home unit, but it was fairly kick ass when traveling. Sort of.

The web browser was quite slow. It could easily take five minutes to login and display my home page on ebay. (It was also frightening that one page on ebay was over a megabyte of data.) The email client was ok, but the sms notification that I had new email didn't display anything about the message itself ( and was often larger than the message itself ), and deleting the text messages often caused the phone to reset.

Then, there was this ancient free AOL client, but it had an annoying habit that if you left it logged in, then switched to another app long enough, the connection went away, and then the AOL client corrupted its preference page; which on the next reset would cause the phone to infinitely reboot. That was loads of fun to cleanup after. Thank goodness I knew engineers that worked at Palm, and so I could get free tech support from someone who actually knew what was going on.

So things were a mixed bag at first. Then TCPMP came out. Suddenly I had a movie player that fit in my pocket. With that, travelling was a joy. I'd be sitting there watching the Daily Show, laughing myself silly, completely forgetting how tiny my seat was. (I had long ago given up trying to open a laptop in the small silver of space between my face and the seat in front of me.)

Over time I settled into using the Treo as a media player and as a cell modem for my laptop with June Fabrices PdaNet. Once in a while I'd use the web browser to read coding horrors or another lo cal web site, and I did get regular gurgles from the email when I had a posting to moderate for Flagstaff Freecycle; but those weren't killer apps. Google maps came out for Palm, which was cool, though I didn't need a map every day, but on those occasions that I did need it, it worked well.

So I settled at that point. The treo wasn't an internet device proper, but it could get me there in an emergency, and it meant that more powerful devices could get online when I needed to.

Newer treos came out, but they didn't really add anything useful. Same screen, about the same keyboard. Little faster cpu, maybe a little more memory, but nothing radical, like going from the 600 to the 650. I let it slide.

Then, after getting un-married, somehow my ex-wife decided that she needed to get her own cell phone plan, and after staring into space at the Sprint store for an hour, the service droid declaired that this would only be mostly possible if I kept five lines on my account by move a new phantom line onto a new real cell phone. I didn't really buy the explanation, but as I imagined spending another several hours at this store with my three kids running around destroying displays and digging ancient dustballs from beneath the counters, I gave into fate and let them sell me a Treo 755p.

It was a little bit cooler, a little bit faster. One nice thing was its non-slip case. My Treo 650 had to live inside a non-slip sleeve in order for me to keep a grip on it. But that bulked it up somewhat. The 755p could also read SDHC cards, though it didn't use full size cards, but instead used mini-sdhc. However they already had 4gb cards, and soon would have 8gb; so that was progress. Finally, it had next generation data support, which in Flagstaff didn't do me any good, but when I went traveling to a real city, it could reach speeds of over 500kb/s.

So I used my new phone and stuck the old one under a pile of papers on my desk.

Until a few weeks ago. When I went to pull the phone out of my bag and it had a giant crack across the screen and was displaying all kinds of funky colors, instead of something resembling a normal screen.

So I went back to my 650 for the time being. The major functions are all there, but surprisingly its the small things that I miss.

The 755p would blink a green light if there was a missed call/voicemail/text message. You could look at it, even with the screen off, and see if something had happened. Just a little software thing, but the 650 doesn't have it, and even the new Centro doesn't do it either.

The 755p has a better radio. The 650 doesn't work at all in a lot of spots in my house, and even sometimes will show two bars, but when I start a call it drops to no bars, or even no service at all. Sometimes it will show a bar, but no calls or text messages will come in, then I'll move it around on my desks and a stack of messages will suddenly arrive.

I'm back to having the messaging app reset my phone when I delete messages. Its still annoying. And it was doing it before I loaded any other 3rd party apps on there.

And the 650 is just slower. It lags significantly when doing simple things. They did some cleanup two generations down the line, and a faster processor and more memory probably helps; so the 650 feels like going back to a ancient processor with not enough memory to get anything done. I really don't want to try using the web browser at all.

Also, I have a Nokia N800 internet pad, which is the device I thought the Treo was going to be originally. The Nokia has a huge screen, two full size SD card slots ( so I have 12 GB of space for my music and movies ), wifi, a real processor, and a full featured browser that can do Flash and AJAX pages like Google docs. Plus I got off my butt and setup RSS feeds for my most read blogs on it. The treo makes a good internet tether for the N800 when there's no wifi around, so I don't think I'll try to browse pages on the Treo except in an extreme case.

I don't know if you can combine a Treo and an N800 into a single device. The N810 has a sliding keyboard, but still no phone. There are other N devices with phones, but they're mostly GSM, so its not going to replace my Sprint phone any time soon. I don't think I'll buy another modern phone right away. Maybe I'll look again with Palm completes the switch over to Linux and can make a phone with wifi that works at the same time as the phone.

For now I have a bag of tricks. Some tasks are handled with excellence, others are just barely covered, but I have reached an understanding of how my current pieces fit together and I'm cool with it. Its up to the consumer electronics industry to shake me out of my complacency with the next great thing. Or not.

Life in the middle of nowhere, remote programming to try and support it, startups, children, and some tinkering when I get a chance.

January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / April 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / August 2008 / February 2009 / August 2009 / February 2010 / February 2011 / March 2011 / October 2011 / March 2012 / July 2013 / August 2013 / September 2013 / October 2013 / November 2013 / December 2013 / December 2014 / February 2015 / March 2015 / July 2016 / September 2016 / December 2016 / April 2017 / June 2017 / July 2018 / November 2018 / January 2019 / February 2019 / April 2019 / December 2019 / March 2020 /

Paul Graham's Essays
You may not want to write in Lisp, but his advise on software, life and business is always worth listening to.
How to save the world
Dave Pollard working on changing the world .. one partially baked idea at a time.
Eric Snowdeal IV - born 15 weeks too soon, now living a normal baby life.
Land and Hold Short
The life of a pilot.

The best of?
Jan '04
The second best villain of all times.

Feb '04
Oops I dropped by satellite.
New Jets create excitement in the air.
The audience is not listening.

Mar '04
Neat chemicals you don't want to mess with.
The Lack of Practise Effect

Apr '04
Scramjets take to the air
Doing dangerous things in the fire.
The Real Way to get a job

May '04
Checking out cool tools (with the kids)
A master geek (Ink Tank flashback)
How to play with your kids

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