Snagged a Google+ invitation

If you want an invite to Google+, send me your Google account e-mail address and I’ll get you hooked up.

Or, if you’re already using Google+, feel free to add me to one of your circles:
http://gplus.to/waynehastings

Why am I having deja vu? This reminds me of Google Wave… a lot!

You should join Google+ !

Today’s xkcd comic convinced me, I need to sign up for Google+

So I fired up a new tab in Chrome — my preferred web browser — and went to plus.google.com, only to see this error:

After Google upgraded their Google Apps suite to match the Gmail suite, I didn’t think I’d see something like this. But apparently Google Apps hosted e-mail accounts don’t yet have full parity with Gmail accounts.

The problem I have right now is that since Gmail and Google Apps use the same cookie, I can’t stay logged into both a Gmail account AND my Google Apps e-mail with the same browser. The browser makes me choose one or the other. So I’m forced to use a different browser for each account: Chrome for waynehastings.net, Firefox for Gmail, Safari for a different personal Gmail, etc.

Oi.

I’m Number One (in Google… again…)

Back in October, I noticed that a Google search on my name placed this site in the number one position on the first page of results. Then a few days later, this site had slid back to about number three.

I’m posting again to say that at least for now this site is back at number one on a search for wayne hastings

Here is a screen shot of my first page of results, with my sites in bold — sites that are not mine are ghosted back.

Hello, HTC Hero

Back in mid-December, I started thinking seriously about upgrading my cellphone from the Blackberry 8073e to … something else.

I’ve had a company-issued iPhone for a year or so, and it is cool, no doubt. But the AT&T service in my home doesn’t work — the signal is too weak for some reason. So switching to AT&T isn’t an option for me.

Sticking with my existing carrier, Sprint, my main contenders then became the HTC Hero and Blackberry Tour. Both looked like worthy smartphone upgrades. I had used the Blackberry OS for years, and knew what to expect there. But this hot, new Google OS, Android, has some buzz. And since I’m a heavy Google Apps user, the idea of automatically syncing with all the data and e-mail I have on Google already seemed like a dream.

After several weeks of mulling my options, I took the plunge and got a HTC Hero.

After living with the Hero for two days, I have to say I like the new phone quite a lot. I’m happily surprised that most of the apps I used heavily on the iPhone are also available on Android, and if an app isn’t available then there is something very similar or even better out there. (One app that I like a lot on the iPhone is the New York Times app, but on Android there is a USA Today app that is just fantastic!)

I do wish the Hero screen was larger. The phone feels good in the hand, and everything looks just beautiful. But this phone is less capable as a reader than the iPhone is. Otherwise, the HTC Hero is a real win.

Shopping for a new cellphone

I’m in the market for a new smartphone. As I look over the market for cellphones, I’m excited by what I see. But I’m disappointed in several areas.

First, let me fill you in on some history.

For many years, I used Samsung flip cellphones. They were great. Small, reliable, simple to use. At the time, I was swimming against the stream — everyone else was singing the praises of Nokia’s products. I had owned a Nokia candybar phone for a while, but once I switched to Samsung I was done: Samsung’s flip phones were a pleasure to use.

I gave up my flip phone once text messaging became a mainstay of cell phone use. The T9 text entry on the flip phone was abysmal. And the WAP web browser was pretty bad, too. That was the point when I decided to upgrade to a smart phone.

At that time, my co-workers were all using Palm Treo’s. I had owned a couple of Palm PDAs, and I wasn’t convinced that a Palm powered cell phone would be reliable or powerful enough. And I just wasn’t a fan of the Palm interface — it was fine as a PDA, but I didn’t trust it for use as a cellphone.

My co-workers thought I was stupid for buying a Blackberry — they essentially said so in front of clients, too. But I had spent some time in the Sprint stores playing with the Blackberry interface, and it was clear I would have a learning curve, but it had a full physical QWERTY keyboard and could load apps to extend functionality. Several years later, I’m still using the same model of phone, the Blackberry 8073e.

The 8073e has been a fantastic phone. I can operate it entirely with one hand, and it has the best speakerphone performance I’ve experienced with a cell phone. The only thing I can say bad about it is the web browser sucks. Everything else has made this my gold standard for how a smart phone should function. And, funny enough, just a couple of months after I purchased my Blackberry, my co-workers ditched their Treos for Blackberries. Of course, they had to get more recent models than I had — “Ooo look, a trackball!” — but I was happy thank you very much with the model I was using.

Enter the iPhone. This game-changing cell phone really rocked the cell phone market, bringing handheld computer functionality, true web browsing, and downloadable applications through the iTunes App Store. So my co-workers decided everyone needed an iPhone. I wasn’t about to turn that down, so for the last year or so I’ve been carrying around two cell phones: one for home, one for work. No doubt, the iPhone is sexy and fun to use. But it isn’t perfect.

The iPhone is great at everything, except for use as a phone. True web browsing using Safari: fantastic. Seemless integration with my desktop: flawless. Tons of cool, entertaining, and useful apps to download and play with: oh yeah. Use as an iPod: serviceable. Use as a phone: horrible. I’ve visited the AT&T stores a couple of times, and complained that I can’t use the cell service — 3G or non-3G — when I’m at home, and they say I’ve got towers all around me. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work. And that is a shame. Sorry, Apple — AT&T let me down on that count. And if I can’t use my phone as a phone, that is a dealbreaker. Oh yeah, no laptop tethering modem, at least not now and probably not later without an extra monthly charge. And I HATE HATE HATE the on-screen keyboard. I could probably live with the on-screen keyboard if cell service worked at home. But as it stands now, with AT&T the only carrier, I’m not switching to the iPhone to replace my personal phone anytime soon.

New to the smart phone market is Google with their Android platform. I’ve been eyeing the HTC Hero, which looks interesting, but I really want a physical QWERTY keyboard! The Motorola Droid isn’t available on Sprint. The Samsung Moment is on Sprint and has a slide-out keyboard, so I need to visit the Sprint stores again and investigate that one more fully before making a purchase decision. Unfortunately, no tethering with any Android phone, at least not without hacking, which I’m just not interested in getting involved with. I want my phone to just work, not just get bricked because I tried to jailbreak it or just lose functionality because my hacks got overwritten by a system update. On the plus side for Android is the fact that I’m a huge Google user — integration between a Google phone and my Google apps would be sweet…

So that brings me back to Blackberry. The Tour and the Bold both look very tasty. Full QWERTY keyboard, software I know will just work, and the web browser is much better than the one on the phone I have now. And tethering is available without hacking the phone!

If I could live with on-screen keyboards, I might suck it up and get the iPhone or the HTC Hero. However, the Blackberry Tour or Bold seem to offer everything I want in a smart phone, even if they aren’t the hot, sexy technology right now.

So these are my options. And it is a wonderful thing to have options. The downside is no one phone gets it all just right.