Friday, May 18, 2007

Hello, Internet.

I've got a Samsung i730 PDA phone from Verizon. Since it's a Windows Mobile 5 phone, I have issues with ActiveSync 4.5, last version from Microsoft.

My issue seems to be more of a design problem, as I've looked in the options for ActiveSync both in my phone and in my PC client, and I can't find any way to change this behavior.

My problem is that my PDA is a phone, and as such it's by my side almost 24 hours a day. I keep lots of documents on my PDA, from simple text files to word documents and a couple Excel spreadsheets. I'm in IT where I work, so I have things like lists of passwords, IP addresses, miscellaneous crap that it's handy to have with me in my PDA phone so I don't have to run across campus every time I need to log in to someone else's computer, for example.

ActiveSync 4.5 running on Windows XP has an option to sync files to & from your device. If you choose this option, Windows XP creates a folder in your My Documents folder called " My Documents", with folders inside that correspond to the My Documents folder on your PDA. (So, if you've got a "Business" folder, there it is, etc.)

My PDA / ActiveSync seems to make pretty poor decisions particularly regarding deleted files. Let's say I have a Note on my PDA that I'm going to use on March 4. I create it on the device, and when I sync my PDA on March 5, it syncs my information and deletes my new file.

Wait, what? No, that's not supposed to happen. See what I'm talking about?

It seems like, for me, ActiveSync is not Sync at all, unless you're talking One-Way Sync. It assumes that whichever desktop PC I hook it up to is God, and happily overwrites files (regardless of creation or modification date) on my Pocket PC with the contents of my "PDA My Documents" folder in Windows XP.

The same thing happens if I have an established document that exists on both the desktop PC and my Pocket PC. If I delete said document (like a Note that I created back on March 4 that's not relevant anymore) on my PDA, which you'll remember is With Me Always, then sync with my desktop PC, the desktop happily moves its copy of the file back onto my PDA.

The most unnerving part of all this is that I've found hidden folders on my PDA named "FilesToBeDeleted". Now, this is just a guess, but if I delete a file on my PDA, wouldn't it make sense for my PDA to actually move that file into that folder, then upon the next ActiveSync, delete the file both on the PDA and the desktop?

ActiveSync just doesn't seem to work at all, in general. If it's going to be one-way sync only, desktop PC is God, then aren't I going to have to come up with some other method to sync important files from my work PC to my home, since it's not going to work just syncing with my PDA? That seems like the opposite of convenience to me, and it sure seems like dumping one rediculously common scenario (documents should sync 2-way based on creation date and last modified date from PDA to PC and PC to PDA) to implement what would seem to be a very rare scenario (only the documents on the PC matter, regardless of whether or not they've been edited on the PDA; if there are any changes, erase them, and if anything's missing on the PDA, put it back).

That's not the way my iPod works. If I open a podcast on my iPod and listen to half of it, then sync it to my PC, the same podcast episode on my PC records that I've listened to half the podcast already. During the same sync, if there are newly-created playlists on my iPod, they get synced to iTunes. (Since iPod can't delete files, the deletion question is moot.) Shouldn't Sync work that way? Isn't that what the word "sync" means? Kinda misleading to call it "ActiveSync", isn't it?

Friday, May 11, 2007

Update. Best Buy has become my new best friend. :)

Friday, 5/18, I called Best Buy on a whim just to see what they'd say about my order. The Geek Squad rep I talked to asked the name on my repair order and the phone number, never asking for the order number, etc. As soon as he pulled it up, before I had the chance to say anything else, he said, "Whoa... that's WAY too long. Yeah, we're going to do something about this. Hang on a second, let me grab Phil (the manager).."

Within three days, my laptop was replaced. :)

I bought my original machine because it was the only laptop they had in stock that had a hardware T&L video card for under $900. This Tuesday, 5/22, I got a Compaq V6000 series laptop with a bigger hard drive than my original machine, a thinner chassis, a bigger screen, and Vista Home Premium..

..and all for $50 less than I payed originally. So, I bought Guild Wars: Factions to go with my new evil-black laptop, something I've been wanting to do for a long, long time.

Thank you, Best Buy! Thanks, Geek Squad of Cape Girardeau, MO! You guys are my heroes. :)

My old machine was named REDY2ROK. This new one will be christened ROKSTEDY.

These are the facts.

My laptop needed repair. It's a Compaq V3015NR model, of the V3000 series. This March, for the second time, the connection between my laptop's screen and the main body went haywire somehow. What happened is that the screen's backlight would not come on, though the actual LCD panel works; if you point a bright light at the screen, you could see the pixels have color. So, it's not like the entire screen's broken, more likely there's just not a good connection in the power lead that goes from the laptop's main body (bottom) through the hinges and to the screen.

I took my laptop to my local Best Buy store. That's where I purchased it originally, on 9/11/06. I took it to their Geek Squad counter and had them send it off for warranty repair. (Remember, this is the second time I've done this for this same issue.) I was confident they'd have it shipped back to my home address, as I requested, in about 1-2 weeks when the repair was completed.

I shipped the laptop on March 20th of 2007. HP received the laptop on March 24, 2007, as evidenced by my laptop's order status on their CSO Status page ( My HP repair order number is HBX706-01.

HP estimated a ship-out date of 3/29/2007.

As of this past Wednesday, May 9, 2007, more than 5 weeks later, I had not yet received my laptop.

I had made 3-4 calls over the intervening period to check on the status of the order. The last call I made, before the end of April 2007, they told me that screens were on backorder and that it would be another 1-2 weeks. That was about 2 weeks before May 9, 2007.

When I called May 9, 2007, I reached an American-sounding representative. He checked on the status of my order and informed me that it had shipped, and that I could expect it to arrive this Friday, May 11, 2007 via Fedex. The representative gave me the tracking number 924295207442 for the Fedex shipment. I was excited, and I believed him; I thought the backorder problem had been solved, my laptop fixed and shipped, and that it would arrive today.

When I got home at 5PM today, the laptop had not arrived. I went to and plugged my tracking number above in to check on the status of the package. (Fedex has a habit of requiring a signature for all deliveries, and it was possible that the deliveryman had rung our main doorbell, missed the sign by the door instructing visitors to ring the daycare's doorbell around the side of the house as well, and that the deliveryman had then left a note informing us the package was ready to deliver and we had missed a delivery attempt.)

This was the first time I had actually used the tracking number since receiving it by phone on Wednesday, May 9. When the results of the track loaded at, they claimed the package's destination was Mount Shasta, California, which is not the same as my home address in Missouri. I started to suspect the rep I talked to Wed, May 9 gave me the wrong tracking number, probably as a mistake.

Just to check, I went to HP's CSO Status page again to check the status of my repair order. I reasoned that if they'd changed the status to Shipped, they might have the right tracking number on the results page that I could use.

HP's CSO Status page stated that my laptop was still at the repair center, had not shipped, but with an expected ship date of 3/29/2007. (This has not changed HP received the laptop on 3/24/2007.)

Now I'm confused. I called HP's service center, 800-474-6836. The representative there took my HP Repair Order number, and informed me that there was a backorder problem, and that the laptop was estimated to ship back to me on June 15th.

That's right. After having waited for more than 5 weeks for what was a 5-day repair previously, HP wants me to wait another month for my laptop to be repaired.

Here's the kicker: I'm still in college. I go to school at University of Maryland. I don't live in Maryland, I live in Missouri; therefore, I am enrolled in online classes exclusively. Not having my laptop is impeding my ability to take college classes. And, according to HP, I won't have my laptop for another month.

What do you think I should do? What would YOU do, if it was your laptop?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

As it turns out, Joost was not down, it just doesn't run on this computer. It installs, and for all intents and purposes it should run*, but it doesn't.

After a month and a week, my laptop (REDY2ROK) is coming back from HP. Apparently they had a major situation and had to wait a month for the part to fix mine.

These to situations will happily coincide tomorrow, when I get REDY2ROK out of the box and install my lovely Joost beta. :) I can't wait to actually start using the thing. I think it's wonderful already.

Found this really amazingly cool site last week: Anobii. It's like a community site for readers. Give them the ISBNs of books you own, or just search by title to pull the information from, and you can mark what you're reading now, what you've finished (and when, down to the exact date or as vague as the year if you want), all kinds of stuff. The site will even make reccomendations based on books you've read, has some rich community features, lets you set up lending or trading your books, all kinds of stuff! This site is actually making me read more. :)

Bonus: Once you've got an account and added a few books, find another book somewhere on the website. Click on the title to see more detailed information, and scroll down to the bottom quarter of the webpage. Down by the book's size information, you'll see a small, nodescript link that says something like "Just how big is that?"

Click that link, and it'll show you a real-world size comparison of that book next to two other books from your own collection.

They figured out that, if you have a book in your collection, you're probably familiar with it's real-world dimensions, especially if you put the ISBN in (since those are usually pretty specific).

That's so cool! XD


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Today, I Googled "how not to be forgotten".

Didn't turn anything up..