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Snow day in Portland!

We’re having the first (and likely only) snow of the year in the Portland area – already a few inches of accumulation, though it’s tapering off, and not expected to last. It will likely be melted by tomorrow.

Those of you reading this from cooler climes will wonder why this is blog-worthy, or even news worthy, but it is, and it will be the only thing the local media (Winter Storm 2007!!!11!) will be able to talk about for the next 24 hours. You see, Portland’s climate is such that snow is rare, so when it does come, it wreaks more havoc than you’d expect. Pretty much ALL of the public schools are closed today (Beaverton was a hold out until the last minute, though!), public transportation is messed up (all the buses are chained and running late, the trains are messed up, too), many businesses are closed, and non-essential things are more or less shut down all over.

Since it snows so infrequently, there are hardly any snow plows or sanders to clear the road. On my way in to Intel this morning, about an 8 mile drive on a mix of residential and highway, I didn’t encounter any attempt at clearing the road until I pulled into the Jones Farm campus parking lot (they have a front loader driving around, attempting to clear the snow, decaptiating several speedbumps, etc.). So while “it’s only a couple inches of snow”, it’s basically going to stay there, and get packed down and icy, until it melts.

The other thing that makes it scary for me to drive in the snow in Portland is the fact that many other drivers aren’t used to the snow, and they don’t know how to drive safely in it (GO VERY SLOW). I maintained a speed of about 20mph on most roads this morning, and there were more than a few people that passed me, and I cringe to think what happened the next time they tried to stop or make a turn. Which leads me to my next observation…

In my 8 miles or so, I had to pull over 5 or 6 times to let emergency vehicles pass (ambulances and fire trucks). Emergency crews are going to be busy today – hope they stay safe, and available to help those in trouble. Doesn’t it irritate you when people don’t pull over for emergency vehicles, especially on a day like today, when you know they ambulance or fire truck is going to have an even harder time getting around than you are in your little pickup or SUV?

Anyway, I’m at work now. It’s quiet around here. Lots of people working from home. Now to take advantage, and dive into the pile of things I’m going to try to get done today. Hope you’re warm and safe wherever you are! 🙂

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The iPhone will NOT sync with Microsoft Outlook/Exchange, might be upgradeable to 3G

Update: Now that we’re close to launch (in three days), I’ve posted more on this topic. Still no clear answer as to whether or not the iPhone will work with Exchange Server, but some big names, like Walt Mossberg and Mary Jo Foley have weighed in with their opinions, and I did (again) with mine. Check it out, and let me know what you think.

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This is going to be a big deal for geeks like me who work at big companies that use Microsoft Outlook and Exchange for calendaring and email. David Pogue says:

Will it sync with Outlook? �No.

Ouch. It seems like there’s been some backlash about what the iPhone can’t/won’t do, and what people wish it would do. Maybe we’re all tired of reading iPhone phones on every blog under the sun (whoops! ;-)). There’s some more information in Pogue’s FAQ Part 2:

�If it doesn�t sync with Outlook, does that mean it will not be compatible with Windows OS?� �No, it�s definitely Windows-compatible, in that it syncs with iTunes. (Music, photos, videos, etc.)

Personally, I’d be happy to ditch Outlook/Exchange, and go to some completely Mac-based system. I’ve actually been trying to wean my wife Rachel off of Outlook and on to more portable web-based solutions like Gmail and Google Calendar. But having instant wireless access to my work email/calendar/contacts/tasks, basically, carrying my Outlook data in my pocket, has improved my productivity more than anything I’ve done in the last few years. It would be really, really hard to walk away from that.

Another interesting note is Pogue’s FAQ is that Steve Jobs said there will be a 3G/HSDPA version when “there’s enough HSDPA coverage in this country to justify it.

Oh, come ON! It’s completely backwards compatible with EDGE! The cost can’t be more than a couple of dollars per unit over an EDGE-only radio, and there’s no downside! Why not put it in the first version?! Create some demand for fast wireless, rather than waiting for it to sprout up!

/end rant

Ask me how I really feel about this… I don’t think I’ve ever used so many exclamation points in a single paragraph. 😉

(Later…) Here’s some more information from part 2 of Pogue’s FAQ post, which leaves us with a dim, distant, pinpoint glimmer of hope that the iPhone might be upgradeable to HSDPA (via a software or firmware update):

�No 3G is almost a deal breaker. EDGE is horrible for a device this advanced�how did that get overlooked?� �It wasn�t overlooked. 3G (HSDPA) is available only in a few cities. Apple says that when it�s more prevalent, the company will upgrade the iPhone.

*sigh*

Why can’t I just have patience, and wait until June to worry about these things? 😉

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Most convincing guess so far about why the iPhone has no 3G

Cringely has an article up about the iPhone (who doesn’t this week?), with what may be the first logical, convincing guess as to what Apple’s reason might be for not including 3G data capability (like speedy HSDPA) in the iPhone, instead shackling us with pokey slow EDGE:

Apple wants the iPhone to get its content primarily through iTunes, ideally by syncing with a Mac  or Windows PC. Apple doesn’t like Cingular Video and doesn’t want its customers to know it exists, much less use it. But it would be very hard to introduce a true 3G iPhone, have Cingular promote it strongly, only to say that it can’t be used to view the mobile carrier’s own video content. So instead Apple falls back to the slower EDGE network, which can support email and widgets and surfing, but which also forces iPhone users to get most of their higher-resolution video through iTunes, where Apple makes money and Cingular doesn’t. (emphasis mine)

This argument makes sense, especially if you consider that Apple is a corporation, out to make money (and, as Cringely notes, not just play in the cell phone market, but dominate it). That doesn’t mean I like it, though, and I still maintain that it would be monumentally stupid of Apple to release such an advanced “Internet Communicator” without support for the fast (and backwards compatible) network that Cingular actually has in place. Bottom line is, I don’t know if I can bear to go back to the slow barren wasteland that is EDGE after living in the land of speedy EVDO milk and honey. 🙂

The rest of Cringely’s piece is a good read – go check it out.

And I promise that at some point soon, I’ll stop blogging constantly about the iPhone. I just need to find something else that makes my geek parts feel all warm and tingly. 🙂

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Asus R2H UMPC in stock at Buy.com for $917.81 Shipped

Back when I was trying to track down a place to buy a couple Asus R2H Ultra Mobile PCs, before I found the awesome folks at ProPortable.com (affiliate link), I signed up for “in stock alerts” from a bunch of places.

I got an email last night from Buy.com, who currently have the Asus R2H (model R2H-BH059T-2 – I think this is the one with the extended battery with integrated stand) in stock and on sale for $905.99 plus $11.82 shipping. The page warns “Very few left in stock! Order soon — product may sell out”, whatever that means.

This is the cheapest I’ve seen the R2H anywhere, and Buy.com is a fairly reputable retailer. If you don’t get in on this before it runs out, and you’re still looking for an R2H, I highly recommend ProPortable.com. They have outstanding service, and they really know their stuff. They specialize in Asus laptops and UMPCs – give them a try.

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iPhone video demo – 4.5 minutes 1 on 1 with Phil Schiller

CBS News scored a few minutes one on one with Apple’s Phil Schiller, in which he demonstrates the iPhone in person:

Thanks to Jason for pointing me to the video on YouTube this morning. You should definitely watch if you’re interested in the iPhone – and who isn’t 😉

My wife has admitted that she wants one, so we’ll probably get two of them when they come out in June. She actually called it “sexy” when I showed her the photos on the Apple site, which is a big thing for her. She couldn’t care less about gadgets, but is into design big time (that’s what her degree is in). I can’t wait to show her this video, and see what she has to say.

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The iPhone CPU appears to be from Samsung

There was a lot of speculation and confusion today about who is providing the CPU for the Apple iPhone – first it was Intel, then it wasn’t. No one really seems to know.

This article over at the EETimes claims that it’s going to be a Samsung processor, and has some details about what other companies got “design wins” to have hardware in the iPhone. For example, Intel will be providing the Flash memory, Marvell will provide the 802.11b/g chipset, etc.

This jives with what I heard from Intel PR and other sources, who said the CPU was a custom design from another vendor (I got the OK to share that).

Along with a lot of other people, I’m still itching to learn what architecture the CPU is going to be, and how it’s going to run a modified/embedded/slimmed down version of OS X.

I expect details like this to leak out in dribs and drabs until June. Oh well – gives gadget geeks like me something to talk about until then. This blog is named “TinyScreenfuls”, after all – where do you think that name came from? 😉

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The iPhone touch interface is just like Star Trek:TNG

I just had a thought about why the new touch screen interface on the iPhone is so enticing, alluring, appealing: it’s just like the flat, glassy, magical computer interfaces from the 24th century in Star Trek: The Next Generation (and subsequent Treks set in the same time period).

No wonder everyone is so blown away by the idea of interacting with a (pocket) computer that way. It’s familiar, yet brand new.

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