One Man's Eyes

I'm an early 30's engineer with delusions of adequacy. From here, I'll share my perspective, usually through words, sometimes through pictures, of the view of the world from one man's eyes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I said no to Modern Warfare 2

For the last few years, I have enjoyed playing games online with a community that I found at Austin Servers. First with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and then Call of Duty: World at War. Until recently, we had been looking forward to what, from all preview footage, looked to be a very promising next installment - Modern Warfare 2. It's a big game for 2009 and has garnered unprecedented advertising - I've even seen Wal-Mart commercials advertising that they would have the game on sale at 12:01am for today's launch.

But, I, like many others, are saying no to this game. In the last few months, disturbing stories came out about crippling of features that PC gamers have expected as standard for more than a decade. You can read elsewhere for details if you're really interested in the minutia of it all.

In essence, the company that makes the game series has given up on the PC gamers that made their series popular. They are pretty much focused on the console market - the Xbox360 and Playstation 3. Only a token effort has been made at producing a PC version of the game and it has been stripped of everything that has historically made PC games better than console ones. Activision/Inifinity Ward doesn't want us anymore. That is certainly their right. They can make whatever games they like for whatever market they wish. But, I'm simply not going to waste my money on a half assed and insulting effort that they have put forth. It would have been better, quite frankly, if they had just declared from the beginning that they would not be making a PC version of this latest game.

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Early Computer Memories

Over on one of the forums that I frequent, a thread popped up about early computer experience. My mind flooded open and I came up with what follows, so I thought I'd share here as well:

My first computer was a Commodore 64. My dad spent several weekends typing in the code for a word processor called Speedscript out of Byte magazine. I used it to type up my 15 page science fair project report back in 7th grade. There was no spell check, but it did allow for some formatting. It was pretty sophisticated back in the day.

We had a Commodore 1250 printer that was special because it had both the Commodore proprietary connection as well as the standard PC parallel port connection. It was a 9 pin dot matrix printer. It took half an hour to print that fifteen page report. My dad and I proof read the hell out of that first printout so that we only had to do it once more for a final report!

It had a cartridge port and we had a dozen or so games for that port. I remember playing Spy Hunter, GI Joe, and Transformers with it.

We used a cassette recorder for storage originally. We eventually invested in the Commodore specific one, as the control was fully automated by the computer. With the standalone recorder, you had to issue a command to the computer to load and then hit the play button on the recorder so that it would start sending data. It had a seconds counter and we had a notepad with an index to tell us how many seconds we would have to fast forward to get to the start of a program.

Eventually, we invested in the infamous floppy drive. I think the disks were something like 360kb (yes, KILObyte) capacity. You had to pull the disk out and flip it over to read from the other side.

My dad would play Flight Simulator (back when it was SUBLogic, which I guess Microsoft bought out at some point). The game would take about 2 minutes to load up from the disk.

With that floppy drive, my game collection increased quite a bit. Back then, there were a number of developers and lots of cheap games. I remember many of them published by a company called MASTERTRONIC. I remember their iconic logo on the the cover of their unique software cases.

This one, in particular, I remember playing for weeks trying to master all the different stages needed to get to the final race:

My daughter would no doubt be horrified by all of this. The Nintendo DS that she totes around constantly has more power and capability by any measure you can think of than anything I had with that old C64 back in the dark ages :D

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Las Vegas Trip - Travel Report...Part 3

Alright, time to get back on this report. When we last left our heroes, they had just returned from an all day adventure to the Grand Canyon.
Knowing this would take a good bit out of us, I decided that Tuesday would be something unique. Honestly, had it not been for reading some Las Vegas review sites and the Tripadvisor forum, I don't think it's something I would have come up with on my own. We scheduled the major part of the day around the Qua Spa at Caesars. As seems to be the case with most of the Vegas hotels, access to the fitness center requires a separate daily fee. Caesars, along with most, give access to the fitness center if you also get a day pass to the Spa. And, above that, at Caesars at least, if you schedule a treatment, such as a massage, access to the Spa and fitness center for that day are also included. The reviews of Qua in particular were good, so I decided that, since we were staying at Caesars, we ought to try it out. Jen and I each scheduled a classic massage for the early afternoon. This allowed us to sleep in, catch a late breakfast, and then head over.
We were actually feeling pretty good after breakfast, and both spent time at the fitness center first. I had a good workout, starting on what was probably the nicest treadmill I've ever seen, followed by a round on the various weight machines. The fitness center itself is coed, so Jen and I were together for this portion. After that, we were each on our own as the Spa area has separate areas for men and women. We agreed on a time, a few hours after our treatments, to meet back at the room. We had a good hour and a half before our treatments to explore and use the spa. I definitely agree with the recommendations that I read to get to the spa before the treatments to take advantage of the facility.
There were several dry and wet steam rooms, along with "Arctic Ice" cold room, and the Roman Ritual baths. I spent time in all of them before my massage session. Having never been to such a place, we talked with the advisor when we scheduled our sessions about the etiquette of the area. On the men's side, I was provided with a robe and a locker to put my clothes into. I wore a towel for the most part when in the steam rooms, but went bare when in the tubs. That was pretty typical, though there were a few who wore swim trunks the whole time. The lighting is subdued and relaxing. There's water and towels available everywhere, along with fruit, teas, and juices in a central room where you can relax and wait to be called for your session. I enjoyed the scented steam room and the Roman Ritual Baths the most. The "Artic Ice" room was brisk, but the "snow" consisted of soap bubbles blown into the room and I found they irritated my nose. I noticed this was the case for a few others as well. The Roman Ritual Baths have three jacuzzi tubs. The largest is the Tepidarium, where the water temperature is about body temperature. I spent a good bit of time relaxing there. This is the launching point to the other two tubs, one hot (the Caldarium) one very cold (the Frigidarium). I could handle a fair bit of time in the hot tub, but just a few minutes in the cold. That cold tub definitely wakes you up and appreciate the return to the Tepidarium.
I used the showers to get cleaned up and relaxed in the lounge with a banana and juice when my appointment time drew near. There were a few of us with appointments at the same time and we were escorted back to the treatment room area and introduced to our artisans. When scheduling the appointment, we were asked if we had gender preferences for the artisan doing the massage. We both decided we didn't have a preference. Mine turned out to be a young woman.
Getting massages is something that my wife and I had talked about getting done for a long time, but we just never pursued it. I decided that, being in Vegas with access to these facilities, it was a good opportunity to give it a try. My treatment was essentially a full body "classic" Swedish massage. The room had subdued lighting and calming New Age type music played. I even recognized a few tracks from my own music library. The artisan asked if there was a particular area that needed focus. I figured my lower back was probably in need of most work. However, after she worked up to my neck and shoulders, it was clear that I was extremely tight there. The artisan paid extra attention to my head, neck and shoulders. Man, was it fantastic. When she was done, I felt more relaxed and loosened up than I can ever remember.
While we paid for the treatments when we scheduled them, as in a restaurant, there was a slip in the room at the end to leave a gratuity for the artisan. I was quite happy to leave a good tip. Afterward, she escorted me back to the spa area and I spent another hour or so enjoying the tubs and relaxing before heading back to the room. While, on the one hand, it is something of an annoyance that access to the fitness center and spa are a cost adder, I appreciated the fact that it also meant that the facilities weren't overcrowded with people and I was able to enjoy the space. I would have to say that Qua was probably our favorite part of our Caesars experience.
Since I had picked Le Reve as our "water show" for this trip to Vegas, I decided that we also would see an actual Cirque du Soleil show as well. Cirque is running a summer special in Vegas for all their shows - buy a regular price ticket, and "bring a friend" for $25. Based on a number of good reviews, and it's proximity to where we were staying, I had booked tickets for Mystere at Treasure Island for our evening's entertainment.
Having been through the Forum Shops a few days before, we decided to have dinner at The Cheesecake Factory before the show. Both our meals were very good and we each chose a different cheesecake for dessert. We ended up with extra time before the show and extra cheesecake, so we took them back up to our room to save for breakfast.
The showing of Mystere was at 9:30p and seating opened at 9:00p. We got there around 8:50p. Having walked up and down the area, I had picked up a few shortcuts (or at least paths to keep us out of the heat). We would typically walk through the Forum Shops to get to the strip. Near the main entrance, there was a covered walkway to go into the Mirage, which sits between Caesar and TI. There is a tram that runs back and forth between the Mirage and TI and we used it to complete the journey in relative ease. I learned that lesson the hard way coming back from Le Reve on Sunday. At night, TI features their "Sirens of TI" show a couple of times each night. When it is going on, passage in front of TI, and even across the street from it, is just about impossible. We never actually saw the show, but we did get stuck in the crowd trying to move through. The tram made it possible to avoid all of that.
When we arrived at the Mystere theater, there was a line almost all the way across the casino. We waited for about fifteen minutes for the line to pass so we could go in. Even though it was moving pretty quick and steady, the end never seemed to appear. People would keep walking all the way to the end and coming back with the line. Finally, we did the same, though it wasn't terrible. We got to our seats pretty easily and thankfully didn't become victim of the clown. Most Cirque shows feature some sort of clown element, in this case, it was a man in a rumpled tuxedo. Before the show, he would go to the main entrance where ushers pointed people to their seats. He would randomly take couples to "show them to their seats". He would end up taking them on long circuitous routes and cause mischief to the amusement of the rest of us who were already seated.
The show was not a complete sellout, but the theater was still pretty full. I was quite happy with our seats. The theater was such that you'd have a hard time finding a place where you didn't have a good view.
The show itself was impressive. The stage area had several animated sections that would raise and lower to bring in and take away various set pieces and groups of performers. This show was much more pure acrobatics than Le Reve was. If you've seen any of the traveling shows like Allegria or Varekai (which I've only seen myself on video), then you'll be familiar with the kinds of performances that happen. But still, having a dedicated theater for the show allows everything to be an order of magnitude more impressive than the traveling shows can provide. The stunts were impressive, though there were at least three miscues during the performance where jumps or catches were missed. Still it was very entertaining. The only real negative we felt was the amount of filler. The main clown made several appearances between acts and there were also several by a "baby" doing different tricks and causing mischief. The segments for both of them would tend to run too long and their entertainment value was not so high. Still, we enjoyed the show and were glad we went. After that, we took the secret path back to our room to turn in for the night.
I was going to try to get through two days with this post, but I ended up having a lot to cover with this one day. I should be able to get the final day and a half into the next post and then I'll finish with a summary as well as some general observations that don't fall specifically into the chronology of the trip.

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Friday, August 07, 2009

Las Vegas Trip - Travel Report...Part 2

Alright, let's do some more reporting. Sunday was a big "free time" day and we did a lot of walking around. We did a pretty good walk around at Caesars, including the pool. The pool area is under construction, but most of it was finished and there was always a good crowd whenever we looked at it. We never actually went in the pool. I must confess, I tended to avoid doing things that I could as easily do back home. Plus, we did something better than the pool....but that comes up later.
We walked around the Forum Shops. The Forums Shops are a pretty good size shopping mall attached to the hotel. There were several restaraunts and a number of fairly high end shops. The shops, like the hotel, are decorated with statues and columns. It also features a ceiling that is painted to mimic a partly clouded sky.
While the Forum Shops were nice, The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian were a whole order of magnitude nicer. The theme was similar, but was more elegantly executed and also featured a gondola ride that runs through the middle of the shoppes. We didn't get around to the gondola ride, but, that's just something else for the list of things to do next time.
Part of the purpose of walking around was to pick up tickets for the other shows we were going to see. To that end, we visited the Wynn and Treasure Island during our day of walking. The Wynn was a really nice looking hotel and immediately felt cleaner and more modern than Caesars. Treasure Island was nice, but felt like a cut below Caesars.
For dinner, we ended up at the food court at the Fashion Show Mall. The food court was a nice large area with plenty of choices and offered us a place to eat for some reasonable prices. I tried a place that made a proper Philly Cheese-steak and it was quite good. After we ate, we started to walk around the mall, but didn't stay long. While the outside architecture was interesting, the inside was pretty much a conventional shopping mall. We didn't come to shop for clothes and shoes on this trip, so it didn't hold our interest.
But, the night finished big. We booked a 7pm showing of Le Reve at the Wynn. I took the early show because of our plans for the next day. To put it simply, the show was fantastic. It was the most expensive entertainment that we went to on our trip, and was completely worth it. The music, light, stage, and performers were beautifully choreographed into a spectacle that was a visual and auditory feast. It is not a true Cirque du Soleil show, but it created by the man responsible for many Cirque shows. While it does feature a good bit of acrobatics, there is also a lot of dancing and synchronized swimming that combine to offer a truly unique show. We seriously considered going for another showing later in the week, but that didn't work out. This is one we definitely plan to see again in the future.
So, what was so big about Monday that made me choose an early show for Sunday evening? An all day trip to the Grand Canyon is what. Thanks to Tripadvisor, I found a small tour company, Grand-Adventures, that offered small groups on day trips to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Darrell is the owner and main guide. He picked us up at the front of the hotel at 6:30am. There were three other couples and another assistant, giving us a total group of 10 people. On the way, we made stops for breakfast, for a photo op at Hoover Dam, and a quick side stop at Seligman, AZ - the town that inspired the Pixar movie, Cars.
Hoover Dam was impressive and we were able to get some nice pictures. The water level in Lake Meade was down well below normal and you could see the large expanse of white in the rock that should have been covered by water. Seligman was also a nice stop and has made quite the effort to keep the Route 66 concept alive.
We arrived at the South Rim around lunchtime. We swung through the gift shop to collect some trinkets and then the group started hiking along the rim. We stopped in a clearing for lunch. The tour package included lunch. We had box lunch sandwiches, cheese, crackers, grapes, and cookies. There was plenty of food and Darrel and his assistant also carried plenty of water. And it was a good thing too, as we needed it. From my previous post, you can get to my Flickr pictures of the Canyon. While I took quite a few, I posted only a few standouts. The Canyon is deceptively big. Your mind literally cannot process the size correctly. We looked down onto the Bright Angel Trail and it seems to be just a few hundred feet down to the bottom. But, then we saw a group down at the bottom riding mules. It was only then that it hit me that they were very small and thus very far away. What seemed like a few hundred feet by itself turns out to be a few thousand feet in reality was the human element comes into view.
Overall, we spent about three hours walking along the South Rim, enjoying some impressive vistas along the way. I took my GPS watch to track our progress and we covered about three and a half miles during the hike. It actually turned out to be a pretty tough hike due to the thinner air. The rim of the canyon is actually 7000 feet above sea level and it is a big change from what we're used to.
After all than, Darrell drove us back and dropped each couple off at their hotel. We were the last ones dropped off at about 9pm. It was a long day and we were well exhausted. Darrell was great. He's really taken the time to put together a day trip that is interesting and manageable. If you are going to take a day trip, I very highly recommend Grand-Adventures.
And so ended the third day of our big trip. Tune in next time to see how we recovered from that adventure.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Las Vegas Trip - Travel Report...Part 1

Last week, my wife and I took a trip to Las Vegas. It was the first time for each of us. The kids spent the week with my parents, so it was just the two of us. In getting ready, I spent a lot of time learning about the town at sites like the Tripadvisor Las Vegas forums and Zeke Quezada's blog and articles at So, first a brief rundown of each day, and then some general thoughts and observations.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon. I had decided in advance that I didn't want to deal with a car this trip, so we planned to take a cab from the airport to the hotel. I was expecting to have to wait in a line, but when we reached the queue, there were plenty of cabs and only a few customers, so we got one right away. We got an honest cabbie as well, straight over to Caesars (no tunnel) and the fare came to what I expected. Nice tip for her.
We checked in at Caesars Palace. Being our first trip, I elected to follow the advice to find a center strip hotel for a home base. We had stayed at a Caesars property some ten years ago when we went to Lake Tahoe and enjoyed it, so I felt it was a safe choice. I managed a very good deal on the hotel and flight together through Southwest Vacations. It was a bit of a surprise, because the consensus was that the best deal was to book hotels and flights separately. But, the deal being offered by Southwest was at least $200 better than any other way I could assembly the flight and hotel.
We got a mini-suite in the Palace Tower and it was a very nice room. We were on the 24th floor with a view of the pool. The room was bigger than our first apartment and featured separate bathrooms for each of us (already planning to do that in our next house now) with a joint dual shower and a jacuzzi tub that was big enough to seat us both comfortably.
I had scoured the internet for deals on shows and had three booked before we left for the trip. The first night, we went to see Penn & Teller at the RIO. When we got to Caesars, I got a Harrah's reward club card and several coupons. One was for the Carnival World Buffet at the RIO, so we went there for dinner. The food was good and there was a lot of it. A good half dozen different stations with different food types, plus a whole separate space for desserts. There was a big crowd and a sizable line, but, since I was using a coupon, we actually got to switch over to a short line and were seated after about 20 minutes. Definitely be prepared to wait if you want to go eat here. We stuffed ourselves pretty well and went to the show.
I found a deal at Travel Zoo for 40% off mezzanine tickets. Apparently, so did everyone else. The lowest level seats had opening and the balcony above us was largely empty, but the mezzanine was pretty much full. Penn & Teller were entertaining. The tricks that they pulled off were amazing, even when they showed you how they did some of them. Penn was a little heavy handed with his political and atheist views during the show, but it was still an entertaining night.
Getting back Caesars was a bit of a challenge, though. The RIO is off the strip, across the highway. While it was about a mile and a half walk from Caesars, the path was not pedestrian friendly. I found out that Harrah's run a free shuttle from both the Paris and Harrah's over to the RIO. To get over, we walked down to Paris and waited about 20 minutes for a bus to come. However, when it came time to go back, it was clear that most of the Penn & Teller audience were like us, coming from hotels on the Strip. The queue was long and it took a good while for us to catch a bus back across. I'd recommend just catching a cab back from the RIO to the strip if you are coming out after a show.
You know, I think, since I've still got several more days to cover, that I'm going to close for tonight and make a few more posts over the next few days. In the mean time, you'll just have to entertain yourself with some of the pictures that I took from the trip.

Ed's Vegas and Grand Canyon Photos

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

And the winner is.....

After much reading of reviews, comparing of price plans, features, and coverage, the winner is the Palm Pre! Saturday morning, we braved the small crowd that gathered at the local Sprint store in Pearland and Jen and I each scored ourselves a Pre...and something else that I'll mention later.

So, the tech geeks are asking "Why didn't you wait to see what Apple is going to annouce for a new iPhone on Monday???" Well, I'll tell you. First, a lot has already leaked about what Apple will be delivering for the third round of the iPhone and it just doesn't sound like too much of a leap over the current one. Sure, there will likely be a 32GB version that could probably serve as my main music device and it's going to have a compass...which will be cool if it can geotag photos with heading you are facing when taking a picture. Still, I've always been leary of the phone/mp3 player combo. My trusty 60GB iPod has outlasted several phones and there's really no need to replace it on that basis. Plus, I'm comfortable taking my Ipod out pretty much anywhere, knowing that, at this point, it would be pretty cheap to replace if I dropped it off a cliff or ran over it with a lawn mower. Not so much with a phone. Sure, they are fairly cheap with a two year contract subsidy. But, not so cheap to replace.

Also, AT&T just doesn't compare to Sprint for my family. We've got a family share data plan that gets us unlimited messages and data, along with 1500 minutes a month to share (and free time starts and 7pm and weekends, so that's a lot of time that minutes won't even get used!). We're now a three phone family - yes, the Princess has beaten us into getting her first phone (Jen and I were late in college before we got our first brick of a cell phone!), so that's three lines. It's going to be several hundred dollars a year less than AT&T and even more so than Verizon. So, the iPhone would have to be a whole lot better for the deal to make sense. Really, it's the two years of service that are the bulk of the cost, so you can't just focus on the hardware alone.

Which gets me to the hardware. Reviews are available everywhere and I read just about every single one of them since they started hitting on Thursday. All sounded good, save for two areas of concern - the keyboard has drawn a lot of criticism, and the battery life has been dissed. When we went to put our hands on it, these were my main things to check. While there's no doubt the keyboard is small, it is effective. It's taken me a little getting used to, but my speed is picking up nicely. As for the battery, if I can get through a full day and charge each night, that's something I can live with. I pulled it off the charger early this morning and have been using it fairly heavily today (as much as I would expect on a heavy day) and now near 10pm I've just hit the 20% warning. I don't expect to use the WiFi radio very often and I will pretty well just use the Bluetooth radio when I'm in the car, so that will help me battery life as well.

So, with the major concerns aside, the rest, as I've said elsewhere, is about 95% pure awesomeness. The screen is simply fantastic - sharp, clear, gorgeous color. Palm spent a lot of time on the ergonomics and it shows - it feels good in the hand and, unlike so many "smart phones" it is pretty easily workable one handed. The connection with my Google mail and calendar, at least with the flow from Google to the phone, is pure joy. Today, I when through my photo album, finding good head shots of friends and family to crop out and attach to my contact entries in Gmail. As I check the phone less than an hour later, all of my contacts have been updated with their new photo ID's. I can see all the Google calendars (one each for myself, Jen, the Princess, and the Tornado) color coded on my screen to keep up with our way too busy lives. The included applications work well and the multitasking is simple and effective. I can't imagine having to shut down an application to use another. It's like using a real computer. I've generally found it to be quite responsive.

As a phone, it is a big step up from what I had been putting up with. I know that you can assign a calling shortcut to each key on the keypad. I had originally planned to take advantage of the letters for some logical mappings (H for home, J for Jen, etc.) But, I've not bothered so far. Why? Universal search - slip open the keypad and start typing. The Pre automatically starts filtering contacts and within three letters I've pretty well got my intended contact narrowed down. While, I'm sure just pressing a holding a mapped button might be faster, I just don't see it being worth the effort to memorize letter keys. On previous phones, even with 99 speed dials available, I never used more than three as I couldn't remember what any of the others were. No more with that on the Pre. Between contacts, the calendar, pictures, the internet - the Pre makes it easy to locate information.

What's not too like? Well, nothing is perfect. I do have to agree with the observations that this thing is a magnet for fingerprints, both on the screen and the body. However, I've also found that slipping it into the simple pouch that comes with it does an excellent job and cleaning the prints off. I've gotten into the habit of carrying it around in the pouch. Probably the biggest complain I have is with volume. Even maxed out, the ringer volume is not very high. The speakerphone volume is also pretty low and the earpiece volume is fairly low as well. I would expect to have trouble using this in a noisy environment.

Finally, while I can understand it, it's still a little disappointing that ther aren't more 3rd party apps available yet. I know that Palm is releasing a developer kit to the general community soon, and I expect (especially with the way AT&T and Verizon are scared of Sprint's exclusivity and salivating over getting it for their networks) that there will be a good market of apps. There's only a few that I'm really interested in, most especially Ewallet.

Well, that's the view after a day and a half. I've read on the PreCentral forums of people giving up on is, which I just find mind boggling. It's true, WebOS is different from the old PalmOS and different from iPhone, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile. It does things differently and for the most part, better in my opinion. But, it does take a bit of getting used to. Finally in 2009 I am seeing some change I CAN believe in, and it is the Pre and the future of WebOS.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Which will it be?

It is an interesting time in the mobile phone business. One thing I'm sure of, within a month, I will be done with Verizon. We've been with them for pushing eight years now and it's time to move on. I've put up with dull phones and expensive plans in return for the promise of the most reliable network. Well, I've had enough. For one thing, Verizon's network has gone into the crapper. I don't know why. Reception has always been marginal at my house, but these past few years, I have run into dead zone after dead zone, especially around Pearland. So, why pay a premium for a network that no longer is interesting in delivering?
What comes next? That is where things get tough. We're clear of our latest two year contract and I was pretty much expecting to go with AT&T and Iphones for the wife and I (and the daughter is also supposed to get a phone, God help me). I expected a third generation version to come out this Summer and that looks like it is going to happen. So, that is good.
But.....Sprint looks like they are trying to get very serious with the forthcoming Palm Pre. It escapes into the wild on June 6th and everything I've seen so far suggests that it is going to be a very good smartphone. It's probably going to be cheaper to own over the two years than an Iphone. But, while the Iphone has pretty well established itself as the 800lb gorilla of mobile phone and had plenty of support among application developers, Palm is essentially starting from scratch with an all new operating system and will probably take a while, if ever to get a good base of applications.
Plus, I had been planning on the Iphones replacing our current Ipods. For better or worse, we're married to Itunes and I don't expect the Pre to be an exceptional music platform. Still, our 60GB Ipods have been trucking along for many years and don't really need to be replaced.
For now, I will try to be patient (well, I have to for now since neither one is out yet). My only real deadline is the end of July. We're going to Vegas and I do want to have our new phones, in part so I can use them to post about our trip and also so I can have internet access without having to be gouged for $15 bucks a day, which seems to be the average cost for internet access at Vegas hotels.

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