worst gadget of the year?

I see that my new cellphone, the BlackBerry Storm, won the editor’s choice award for “Worst Gadget of the Year” from Engadget. I’m actually starting to get used to it, and I kind of like it. I’ve got nothing against the iPhone 3G, which won “Gadget of the Year”, both editor’s choice and reader’s choice. I’m comfortable with the Storm though. I think I’ve finally got the problems with Missing Sync resolved, though I’m hesitant to say that out loud, since I’m worried I might jinx it.

weird Kindle book pricing

I was just looking to see which Ian Rankin novels were available on the Kindle. Lots of them, it turns out. Weird pricing though. You can buy his novel “Strip Jack” for $5.59, $7.99, or $9.99. I can’t imagine there’s any difference between these three versions. Looking at them, I guess each is based on a different print edition, but, on the Kindle, it’s all going to look the same.

financial stuff

I did my taxes last weekend, so I decided to bring my Merrill Lynch and 401k accounts up to date in Quicken this weekend. I had two quarterly 401k statements and four monthly Merrill statements to enter. Very depressing. Lots of money down the drain over the last several months!

I’ve been manually entering my Merrill statements into Quicken for about a decade now. I tried switching to a download & import scheme about five years ago, I think, but it didn’t work quite right, so I gave up and went back to hand-entering them. Well, I decided today that enough time had passed that it was worth giving it another try, and it worked OK. So, now, I’ve got nearly all of my financial stuff automated. The only think I really need to enter manually now is my 401k statement, since that’s apparently not available in a Quicken-compatible download.

some more calendar syncing notes

OK, I’m sure anyone reading this blog is by now bored out of their skull by all this talk about syncing calendars. I have no idea why, but I’m still finding it kind of interesting getting all this stuff straightened out. A while back, I blogged about the weird way that Apple handles birthdays between iCal and Address Book.

To summarize: You can generate a calendar in iCal that shows all the birthdays for your contacts. It’s not a normal calendar, though. It’s more like a calendar subscription, which means you can’t push it down to your iPod with MobileMe. I’ve been using a third-party utility to generate a “real” birthday calendar, which *can* be pushed down to the iPod, or anywhere else I’m syncing my calendars.

I think this auto-generated birthday calendar is the source of some of my syncing problems, both with Outlook (on the PC) and on the BlackBerry (via Missing Sync).

Looking at this thread at the Macworld forums, it appears that iPhone OS 3.0 may actually support subscribing to calendars, so I won’t need the third-party utility anymore. I’m not sure if Missing Sync will support pushing that down to my BlackBerry though.

more Missing Sync issues

I’m still trying to iron out some issues with Missing Sync.

One thing I’m noticing — the sync back from the BlackBerry to the Mac looks like it wants to wipe out the URL field for any of my iCal entries that use it. I can see where the URL field might not be mappable to something on the BB, but it’s a little scary that it would just wipe it out on the way back to iCal. I was looking around to see if there was a way I could change the mapping so the URL field would just be left out of the sync, but I didn’t see anything obvious.

So now I’m back to just pushing the calendar down to the BB, and not syncing it back.

random BlackBerry Storm notes

I may or may not be over my sync problem with Missing Sync. I got a response from somebody on the Mark/Space forums that gave me a few things to do, which I tried, and I’ve gotten a couple of good syncs since then.

Also, I just tried out the station caching feature in Slacker Radio. It took a while to update the device, but now I’ve got a few hundred megs of random music on my Storm for free, so it’s hard to argue with that.

Also on the music front, I tried using Media Manager from the BlackBerry Desktop software to copy some MP3s down to the Storm. I don’t know if it’s just me, but Media Manager was so slow, I just gave up on it. Maybe I’ll play with that some more tomorrow, and see if I can figure it out.

I also got the WSJ Mobile Reader set up today too. That looks to be a pretty good app. I haven’t played with it much yet, but it seems to be pretty easy to use, and it looks like it gives you access to quite a bit of WSJ content.


About a week ago, I mentioned that I was sending some stuff off to Gazelle. It looks like everything worked out OK on that. I got an e-mail from them a few days ago, letting me know that they’d received my stuff, and I just got another e-mail with an Amazon gift code for $27, which is actually $4 more than I expected. So, overall, a good experience, and a relatively painless way to get rid of some stuff that really wasn’t worth anything to me.

I was considering sending them my old PlayStation 2, but it looks like they’ll only give me $19 for it, while I can probably sell it, plus the second controller I never used, plus a few games, for maybe $50 on eBay.

Missing Sync troubles

I seemed to have Missing Sync working OK with my Storm for a little while, then the calendar sync starting tossing out errors. I opened up a support ticket on Friday night. I’ll see if someone gets back to me on Monday or not. Meanwhile, I tried a few random things to fix the situation, and I have gotten it working again, though I’m not confident it’ll *keep* working.

I did a backup and restore of my iCal data, then ran Onyx to clear out all my logs, then rebooted and did a fresh sync. No errors. It’s getting late, so I’m not going to mess with it any more tonight, but we’ll see if the device keeps syncing OK over the next few days.

I was listening to a DNR episode last week which dealt with some of Microsoft’s work on sync technology. It was pretty interesting. Apparently, sync still isn’t an easy problem to solve.

skipping San Diego

Hotel reservations for San Diego Comic-Con opened up today. I briefly tried getting on the reservation site from work, but I couldn’t get through, and gave up. I just checked from home, and the only hotel they have left is about 7 miles from the convention center. So, I think, between that, and not being about to get a four-day pass, I’m going to skip the con this year. It’ll be weird, not being there. And I’m definitely going to have to come up with some other plan for a summer vacation, otherwise I think I’ll probably crack by August.