Blackberry OS 4.5

Last week I upgraded my Blackberry Curve from OS 4.3 to 4.5. The upgrade process ran only in Windows took about an hour. I ran it in Fusion, but was generally painless and worked without issue. I’m sure there a ton of new features and bug fixes but here’s my hit list of what I like.

  • HTML email! Tables work, replies don’t break formatting. Colors, bold, underline, and all that goodness renders on the phone.
  • You can see Exchange availability in the calendar. When you type in somebody’s name, it shows you the free/busy for that person.
  • Multiple and colored calendars. If you have more than one service that supports a calendar, the Blackberry will overlay them with colored views now. It works a lot like Windows Live Calendar does.
  • The address book now uses two lines per contact. The first line is the name and the second is the company. Not a huge fan since now I can see half the contacts at one shot. I wish they had an option to disable that.
  • The new default font, BBAlpha Sans, is really pretty. It’s easy on the eyes, has really nice font hinting. The problem is that it slows the phone down. I have a feeling rendering that font on the Curve is a bit much and adding a touch of sluggishness to the device. Switching the font to any of the old ones picks the speed back to the 4.3 OS.
  • In call audio enhancement is supported, so you can add bass or treble boost in the middle of a call if somebody is hard to hear. It’s moderately useful.
  • The media player app is pretty much the same, except there are now voice notes. It’s a bit hokey and I’m not a huge fan of it. More on that in a later post.

Overall, it’s a really good upgrade. Makes the phone feel like it’s a new device and the HTML support is awesome.

Linksys WRT100 and the Macbook Pro

My parents have a new Linksys WRT100 RangePlus router at home that replaced an old D-Link. The old router had no problem on my MacBook Pro. This new one would always connect but using any service on the web or even IM would be spotty. Oddly, traceroute and the like showed find transmit times but I think it wasn’t able to push more than one kbps or something paltry like that. It was so painfully slow that I coudn’t even access the router’s configuration page via wireless

After fiddling around hardwired, I disabled the “mixed mode” which is basically B/G/N support and set it to B/G support since my laptop in any case is the only device in the network that supports N. Bingo — back and functional. So, word to the wise: Linksys WRT100 does not love the factory settings on the WRT 100.

Social Application Sharing on the iPhone

While I don’t own an iPhone, I’ve been watching this phenomenon occur over and over again. People, iPhone owners and non-owners alike, often pick up other people’s iPhone and take a look at what applications are installed on them. I’ve been trying to keep an eye on when I do this and when people do it to each other. It happens across the board even from one iPhone user to another. It’s the social app sharing phenomenon.

The market dynamics of the app store (e.g. what is the top selling app and so on) changes so fast that people rely on other people to see what is hot and happening. And they do that by picking up their phones and unlocking them. The real-world social sharing is probably just as powerful of a discovery mechanism as the App Store.

This doesn’t happen with many other phones. Very rarely do people want to see my trusty Blackberry Curve and it never happens some candy bar phone. So, you iPhone users, watch this happen around you if you didn’t notice it before. It’s most bizarre.

NEA Arts Indemnity Program

I ran across then when browsing a web site for an exhibit here in SF: “This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.”

So I looked it up and apparently the National Endowment for the Arts has an indemnity program that was created to allow US museums to pass the liability (e.g. insure) for the collection they have on loan to the US government. If there is a loss, the institution must pay a deductable and the rest of the loss is covered by the government. What a clever idea. It’s a seemingly cheap way for the US government to encourage museum sharing and reduce the cost of the museum insuring the art work.