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Triangulating Why the Motorola Q is a Disappointment

motorola-q.jpgAfter many months of sneak peaks, increasing impatience, and mind-numbing hype, the Motorola Q has finally been released to the public.

Initial reactions have ranged from overly generous (PC Magazine), fanboys of the idea far too early before the release and it is obvious (CNet) to cautiously optimistic (PC World). Those few with their hands on the prize have been overwhelmed with public curiosity and the official marketing campaign for Motorola and Verizon is only now just beginning.

The Motorola/Verizon gang (Verizon has first dibs at selling the phone, we guess it will be 3-6 months before other carriers get it) has created the perfect storm in the perfect order: an early announcement with some teaser photos and promises, a noticeable buzz in the tech community, anticipation and desire, a very competitive price point, a sexy design -- they have created a conveyor belt that implants this thing into your brain as the perfect phone and then practically delivers it directly to your hand.

So how could this phone end up being a disappointment? In a word: reality.

Before I jump into my theory as to why I'd like to preface it by saying that I don't think the phone is going to be a flop. As a matter of fact, I think it could do quite well. If you combine the irrational exuberance over the idea of smartphones like the Treo 650 with the sometimes spectacular industrial design of Motorola phones, and you have an Apple-like reality distortion field that can often last for longer than the life of the product itself.

So here is what I think the problem is: this device looks like a serious productivity machine and another step forward towards the best convergence phone on the market, and we all want very badly for that to be the case, but instead it's a step sideways and backward.

The perfect productivity device would have the speed, efficiency, multi-tasking ability, and interactivity of a Palm phone, the scroll wheel of a blackberry, a thin form factor, and would be chock full of features power users want: unrestricted bluetooth, wifi, and tons of applications. Well, it kinda/sorta is pointing in the right direction.

Where it succeeds:

Where it fails:

Bottom line:
The bottom line is that there is a chasm between consumer and pro phones that does NOT want to be bridged by a phone that half does what each user group wants. Consumers still don't want to pay the high price and the pros are going to be let down by what is missing. To me, this phone really wants to be more than it currently is - right now it's a large phone with a keyboard, not a small PDA/smartphone with all the fixin's. Here's to hoping for "Rev 2".

Aug 30 update: Gizmodo reports on firmware update for device. They do not attempt to hide their feelings of being underwhelmed.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 31, 2006 | Comments (3)

Using Windows, a reminder

I've got Windows XP installed on a Dell inspiron in my office for web testing. The OS is a sqeaky-clean install and contains all the patches. In addition I am running a firewall and antivurus. All that is ever asked of it is to let me KVM over to it every once in a while to load web pages in Internet Explorer. (rough life, right?)

Despite my simple requests it will still randomly tell me things like:

"USB Device Not Recognized
One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it. For assistance in solving this problem click this message"

...of course if the USB Device in question is a mouse, it makes it kind of tough to follow their cumbersome and useless troubleshooting advice.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 31, 2006 | Comments (0)

Products Publicly Recommended (or Bashed)

I'm purposefully not naming this ongoing entry "Product Reviews" as some may begin to wonder why the growing list of items is so highly ranked. Lest people think I'm a "me too" product hawker allow me to explain the rankings; I try to buy as little stuff as possible. Everything I get is a tool, even if it's a toy, it's also practical. I do a lot of research before buying things therefore trying to avoid bringing products into my home that suck. I also resist writing up scathingly bad reviews unless I have firsthand experience with a) trying to use the product and b) trying to fix the problem or work around the inconvenience.

B00008OOX2.01-A2R0FX412W1BDT._SCTZZZZZZZ_.jpgHoneywell 50150 99.97% Pure HEPA Round Air Purifier
May 18, 2006, 5 Stars stars-5-0.gif
Read the review
Buy it at Amazon.com
B0000C1XHY.01._SCTZZZZZZZ_.jpgHP LaserJet 1012 Printer
September 16, 2004, 5 Stars stars-5-0.gif
Read the review

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 19, 2006 | Comments (0)

Hacking Hackers on Moveable Type

In all the years I've been blogging I have not seen a single useful "trackback ping". Ever. In beginning to see them being exploited by spammers the feature seems almost to have been invented for that sole purpose.

One of my blogs started with an early version of Moveable Type and was upgraded over time. Somewhere along the line most of the entries were tagged to allow trackback pings. The spam started rolling in, gaining in volume and peaking at almost 100 per day. There was no way to batch change ALL entries to have trackbacks turned off from within the Moveable Type interface -- only batch DELETE the ones you didn't want to keep. (Which are all of them, really)

Was I doomed to have my site slowly crumble under the weight of texas holdem, porn, and weight loss ads? I thought not.

Using phpMyAdmin I:
- navigated to my blog's database
- selected the table "mt_entry"
- typed in: UPDATE mt_entry SET entry_allow_pings=0
...and hit Go

All entries were now marked as DISALLOW pings. Opening individual entries in the MT interface confirmed it -- the "Accept TrackBack Pings" was unchecked.

Later that day, another 100 trackback pings appeared in my inbox.

So something didn't translate -- I logged back in and did a "rebuild site" -- all files, just in case the change needed to be written to all the HTML files (which seems obvious in retrospect).

No dice.

killtrackbacks.jpg

After consulting the SixApart forums and not finding anything useful we just applied a good old fashioned "hack" and renamed the mt-tb.cgi file (Moveable Type TrackBack) so it could not be executed. So far it's been working like a charm.

Posted by Aaron R. Deutsch on May 18, 2006 | Comments (0)