This Week: Pittsburgh, Mifi vs Wifi, Radio Shack, Make Magazine & Halloween

<RAMBLE> This week was just chock full of unexpected stuff. Whereas I had thought I was going to be at home learning about virtualisation in support of an upcoming project I got word that some kind of software sorcery was required at the site of troubled project in Pittsburgh. By the end of the day Wednesday, and with very little notice, I was ensconced in the Omni William Penn hotel in down town Steel Town.

The William Penn is Pittsburgh’s oldest hotel. It’s beautiful inside the lobby and common areas. It’s an Omni so the rooms are well appointed with great beds & flat screen TVs. Being older the rooms aren’t all that large, but they are nice.

Internet access is by way of wifi which costs $9.95/day. Normally I wouldn’t care about such matters as I’d have my trusty Sprint Mifi along in my bag. Part of the argument in getting my employer to pay for the Mifi every month is that I don’t pay for broadband by the night in hotels anymore.

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Blackberry Desktop v6.0 Drops Desktop Email Redirector

Since November of last year I’ve been carrying a T-Mobile issued Blackberry 9700, aka “Bold2.” It’s a very good phone. I have no issues with the device, nor the carrier for that matter. Good hardware. Good service. On the other hand, this past weekend is an interesting indictment of the phones manufacturer, Research In Motion.

This past weekend the Blackberry Desktop application on my home office PC informed me that Blackberry Desktop 6.0 was available, and I should let it do an automatic update. Like an idiot…I did.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t really use much of the Blackberry Desktop software. It’s functions are many, but tend to revolve around sync’ing the handset with Outlook. Simply put, my calendar and contacts are not that dynamic, so I rarely sync the phone with my PC.

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The Sprint 3G Mifi: One Year Later

It’s just over a year ago that I took the plunge and ordered a Sprint 3G Mifi. It was move inspired by a tweet from Andy Abramson pointing out a deal on Amazon.com. The device was free with a two year contract at $59.95/month.

I’ve put the device to good use over the course of the year. It’s been very handy indeed. However, I suspect that we shall part company shortly.

I really don’t have any complaints about the Sprint 3G service. It’s been pretty good. There have been a few places where the Mifi could only connect at 1xRTT, but I’ve usually had decent 3G data rates in the locations where I tend to travel.

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FaceTime Over 3G….Kinda

iPhone 4 with mocked up image on-screenThis past week I worked a few days with our west coast salesman who is the proud owner of a brand new iPhone 4. A long time user of the iPhone 3 GS, he’s thus far very happy with iPhone 4. Both he and his wife carry new iPhones.

One of the things that they’re been enjoying is the new FaceTime application. While I was there he used it to call his wife who was spending some time with family in Las Vegas.

He also used it to show her how their dog was feeling much better after having been ill for a few days. Clearly, to see the dog wagging his tail for herself is a lot more convincing that merely being told he feels better.

This was for me a revelation. I’ve known this gentleman a long time and know that he is not drawn to techno-gadgetry for its own sake. He’s not an early adopter, but he appreciates stuff that works well. In this regard he’s squarely in Apple’s target market.

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Counterpath Launches Bria iPhone Edition

Today saw the official launch of Counterpath’s newest soft phone offering; Bria iPhone Edition. Following not long after the announcement of Bria 3.0 for Linux, Bria iPhone Edition extends their platform support to include all the major desktop operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux) and now one of the hottest smart phone & tablet platforms, Apple’s iOS.

While initially a consumer phenomenon, there’s little doubt that the iPhone is gaining ground in enterprise settings. That an enterprise can look to a single vendor for a soft phone solution across it’s entire scope of activities is profoundly attractive. It simplifies roll-out, and ensures a consistent end-user experience.

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Evolving The Mobile Data Billing Model

AT&T 3G USB DongleEarlier this week AT&T has its quarterly earnings call. Normally I would not give it any notice at all. It’d just be another bunch of noise in my Google Reader in-box. This week they did something that simply jumped out at me; they called for an evolution of the current billing model for mobile data plans. Oddly enough…I agree…sort of.

Of course, their perspective on this is not quite the same as my own. AT&T want to be rid of the $60/mo for all-you-can-eat billing model and charge based upon actual usage, perhaps in some sort of tiered fashion.

Literally everyone knows that the current billing model is badly broken. Their flat rate “unlimited” plans are not really unlimited at all. My Sprint 3G service was pretty plain about it being capped at 5 GB/month. Beyond that I’d guess that it gets costly. Moreover they claim performance levels that almost no-one ever achieves in practice.

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