Lifedrivedoc.com began as a place to talk about the Lifedrive. It soon became apparent that it was much more than that. Since moving on from my Lifedrive, I am engaged in more avenues of technology. That technology has intersected with my professional life - Medicine as well as my social life.

As noted above, the blog is about a lot of things in relation to technology. If you are looking for Lifedrive related material, I am currently dividing the blog so that those searches will be easy for you to find. Most of them will be pre 2007, that should help. Additionally, if you are looking for the links that used to be on the left border. They will be back up in a different format soon. I do enjoy reading about new things to do with the Lifedrive, so you can feel free to let me know about those. I will also post those on the site.

If you are having trouble getting an RSS Feed, click on the feed link below or type this into your reader: http://feeds.feedburner.com/lifedrivedoccom


Friday, September 28, 2007

Centro -- ooh, aagh... Shiny :).

I have been looking at this device lately. Unfortunately it is on Sprint and therefore not something that I can readily purchase. However, what I would like to know is if this device comes to the GSM world, will Palm make an unlocked version? And if Palm does, will they still charge $99.00 or something ridiculous, such as $300+?

I think that this makes the biggest difference for the most part. For $99.00, this is a fantastic machine. A Smartphone, with a decent operating system and features. I also like the form factor. It is small and obviously appeals to the younger crowd, which is something that I am certain the designers at Palm are happy to have pointed out to them.

But would it be good for a Physician? I have not had the opportunity to play with one of these yet, but the more I think about it, the more I think this thing could have some corporate or medical uses. The camera can take pictures, so a lesion can be photographed and immediately emailed or uploaded. The form factor is just right. It could fit in a jacket or even a shirt pocket. The ability to use this device, along with another Palm device would be nice. ie. Use the Lifedrive for the "big" stuff and the Centro for the "small" stuff, while keeping the phone books the same. You could decide to bring the Lifedrive one day and the Centro the other. In addition, having a telephone which has the same phone layout as your Lifedrive is priceless. Akin to Apple keeping its users in the same garden.

The expandable memory, using the SD card could prove to be a deal maker. If software can run from a very fast SD card, then you have the equivalent of a "mini Lifedrive." So, I will be looking forward to reading about first impressions of the device. For me, I have finally decided that I want a device that does work. I am not interested in watching movies or listening to music on it. If it does this, then that's a plus. But the iPod does this in a way that I find difficult to beat. I want something that is stable. Now, if I can get all of this goodness in a small form factor and a ridiculously low price of $99.00, then it is something that I will have to look into.

To me, I think that Palm has made the right move. They have chosen the Microsoft approach, which is not a bad one to take. That is, make a utilitarian machine and undercut the competition. Subsidize it if you have to. Then put tons of apps for free on the machine. Keep the press busy and in no time you have ADOPTION. Your inexpensive device is suddenly everywhere. Centro becomes a verb and people wait for the upgrade or the next machine above it.

It looks as if Palm is thinking again!


Addendum: Comparison photo of the Treo 680 and the new Centro, courtesy Palminfocenter.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Asus EEE. There is a buzz out there.......

With the exception of the iPhone, I don't think that I have seen this much excitement about a pending device in quite a long time. The Asus EEE series seems to have drawn a lot of attention from tech bloggers and techies alike.

However, despite the release of several data sheets, many of them contradicting each other, there appears to be some discrepancy in regards to the device itself. And Asus isn't really helping to set the record straight.

The release date, the final price of the machine and its actual specifications are all debatable.

The most recent news on the device came earlier today from the reputable Engadget. The entry level model, described in an earlier post, is now $260 (EEE PC 700), up from $200 a month ago. The high end model will apparently cost $400 (EEE PC 701). The specs listed below, from last week's post, appear legitimate. However, the speed for data being run and actual clock speeds are still up in the air. With so much uncertainty, I am beginning to wonder whether Asus is now terrified that the product will not live up to the hype and/or whether they ever expected this much response and enthusiasm from the public?

Still not clear about what all the buzz is about? Well take a look at the video and the expected specifications. You will notice that the machine supposedly has the ability to run Windows XP (I presume in some limited mobile edition) and some version of Linux. And don't forget, wireless access, onboard ethernet, a built in camera/microphone and usb slots !!!

While you look at the video, don't forget the size of this object. It is quite small and comparative images are provided. Could this be the Lifedrive Replacement?

Video Courtesy, www.hispazone.com

On this site, www.umpcfever.com more specifications are listed. Again contradictory, even though this one comes directly from China at a Chinese Expo (Compudex 2007) featuring the Asus:

specifications of EEE PC 701:
CPU & Chipset: Intel mobile CPU & chipset
OS: Linux/ Microsoft Windows XP compatible <------- +LDD+ UNCLEAR IF XP MOBILE.
Communication: 10/100 Mbps Ethernet; 56K modem
WLAN: WiFi 802.11b/g
Graphic: Intel UMA
Memory: 512MB, DDR2-400
Storage: 4/ 8/ 16GB Flash <------------ +LDD+ ENGADGET REPORTS 4G as the top end.
Webcam: 300K pixel video camera
Audio: Hi-Definition Audio CODEC; Built-in stereo speaker; Built-in microphone
Battery Life: 3hrs (4 cells: 5200mAh, 2S2P)
Dimension & Weight: 22.5 x 16.5 x 2.1~3.5cm, 0.89kg

And here, embeded, you can see the Asus in action at the Expo (courtesy of www.umpcfever.com):

Of note, Engadget published that the high end model would be 4 gigs of storage (today), while the above mentions 16 gigs. Again, pure controversy. I think that it will be interesting to see what comes of this. It really looks like an interesting machine. I would really like to play with one in the wild.

More video of this quite stunning machine and notice how the specifications and price are different (granted this was an earlier video and news story):

Courtesy, IDG News Service

And finally, you can pop over to the official Asus website for a flash based presentation. Cheesy, but it is worthy:



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Competitors for Lifedrive Replacement

So, I am currently looking for alternatives to my tried and tested Lifedrive. Having put up with resets and the finicky software upgrades and lack of stability, I have decided to buy an additional device.

I have had no interest in purchasing the Foleo, although it did appear interesting at first. The $500 price tag, along with the monicker, "Mobile Manager" reminded me of the "experiment" that was the Lifedrive and how I would be holding onto a version 1 product.

While I am looking at purchasing a Palm TX to hold for another two years, I have had the opportunity to look at some other devices. A few of them appear very interesting, but not altogether pragmatic:

Pocket Surfer by Clove Technology

This looks like an interesting device. It is available in the UK only unfortunately, costing ~$360.00 with an annual payment of ~$70 per year for GPRS internet access. GPRS is not the fastest thing in the world, but $70 per annum this looks like a very nice device. There are no monthly payments and no pesky startup fees.

However, the device just surfs the web. And you have to be within GPRS range, something that iPhone owners are beginning to find, is not such a simple task. Nevertheless, the 152x75x15mm dimensions should make for a pleasant surfing experience, sans the delays.

For more information, particularly for those of you across the pond, you can go to Clove Technology's website here.

Palm Treo 500v

Palm's latest offering is only available in Europe right now, but will be here soon. It is one of the few devices from Palm that does not offer a touchscreen. It will use 3G, coming with a 2 megapixel camera, 256mb ram (150mb available) along with a MicroSD slot and Bluetooth 2.0.

Missing, is of course Wifi. Also missing is the processor speed, which was not readily available. It appears to come in two relatively "cool" colors -black or white. The size appears to be a little smaller than the iPhone, but it is not as thin.

Unfortunately, we are still stuck in time with Palm OS 5.0, when it eventually comes to the US in the Palm version. Otherwise, the European version appears to be sporting Windows Mobile. Additionally, for me anyway, I don't think that this will be the device that will let me break my current calling plan. The iPhone, came very close.....

Of course the main advantage of a device such as this is the ability to stay within the Palm network of software and hardware compatibility. Additionally, when the 500P with the Palm OS finally comes out, it will be tempting to buy a unified device. Nevertheless, I understand that this will only work on EVDO - Sprint's network. Mmmgh, perhaps a longer wait for an AT&T version?

Sammy Mcloughlin over at PalmAddicts, has posted PATV 116. It is a quick videocast on Youtube showing an out of the box demo of the product. You can see it below.

You Tube PATV 116

The Asus EEE

This is something that you have got to see to believe. I think that it is possible the Foleo may have been pulled after seeing this device. It appears to be about the same size as the Foleo, but it has a lot more going for it. First of all, it has removable memory. It will be released next month in the U.S. with either a 8GB or 16GB flash hard drive. Depending upon where you read, it will either come with Linux or some form of Windows XP. I have even seen some people posting that it may run OS X.

It will use an Intel Mobile CPU (probably the Pentium M found in IBM Thinkpads). It will have a webcam 300k pixel. Again, there is some controversy as to whether it will actually carry for 3 hours or longer, but it will use a 4 cell battery and weigh 2 LBS !!! Size: 8.9 x 6.5 x 0.82 ins. It will also (as if it couldn't get any better than this) have 3 USB Ports, 1 VGA out, an SD Card reader, Modem, Ethernet, headphone out, microphone in all with a 7 inch display.

I had the opportunity to check out a few bloggers who are also salivating about this product. Apparently ACER has also put in a Palm-import tool in their main desktop software on the device (Courtesy Mike Cane's blog). What this means is anyone's guess. But why are people salivating? Because the cost of all of this goodness is somewhere between $199 to $250 !!!! That, my friends, is about the price of a brand new Tungsten TX. You bet I am looking into this one and keeping up with all of the news about it. It appears to be an amazing little machine. There is apparently a lot of buzz about this device coming from a few good sources as well. Check below.

Asus Eee first thoughts

Additional Hands on

A real Geek perspective (opened)


Monday, September 17, 2007

More Short Blurbs from Across the Lifedrive Universe

Rummaging through the feeds, here are a few tidbits from around the Lifedrive universe. Included are a few off topic news stories:

Foleo II ??

Alan Grassia runs a blog called Foleofanatics and seems convinced, on account of some interesting wording in emails sent to people who are currently beta testing the Foleo, that we have not heard the end of the controversial product. Apparently they have been told to send the devices back to Palm, but the interesting statement in the email read, "...A Foleo II will have different hardware..." leading to speculation that Palm is not about to abandon the current device.

Perhaps an increase in Ram, SSD memory and more features might be in the offering. Perhaps Palm will just pull out all of the stops and 'just go for it!' Max it out with as much technology as possible and hit the ball out of the ballpark. Interesting read.

Changing User Name on a Lifedrive without a Reset

A question asked on the Palm board recently requested this over the weekend. The solution can be found here: Solution ID #24485

Business Week trashes Palm

Business Week
, has seen fit to predict the demise of Palm Inc. Although many good points are made about the company, there appears to be no redeeming value in the article as it rehashes the developments already expressed in more interesting blogs (ie. Engadget, Palmaddicts).

My take: As long as Apple continues to use web based apps, instead of native apps, I will not be purchasing an iPhone anytime soon. Additionally, several medical apps run natively on the Palm Pilot. I cannot exactly migrate somewhere else that easily.

Screenfreeze and lukewarm batteries.

Over at Palm's own forum, there are some interesting thoughts on the lukewarm battery issue and the freezing of Palm on a single screen. Interesting reading, but even more interesting answers.

Society of Teachers of Family Medicine now want money for Shots

Well, last year, I wrote about the Shots program crashing dismally on the Lifedrive. However, I thought it was a super database program that gave excellent information FOR FREE. If you decided to use the version of the software that contained the pictures of the diseases, your Lifedrive would crash, but if you just ran the No-Pictures version, then you would be fine.

Well, it's no longer free. It appears that Skyscape is now at the helm, still using STFM to drive sales of the 2007 updated version for 14.99 on Palmgear.com

Is it worth 14.99?

Non Touch Screen Treo 500v runs Windows.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Emptying the Pantry

Well, I have not had a lot of time to blog lately or post interesting articles. However, I do have a few articles that I wrote during the year but for one reason or another did not publish. So, I have labeled them 'Emptying the Pantry.' Some of these are a little dated, ie. March or April, but some are timeless. The first, listed below, is a comparison between my iPod and Lifedrive. A brief update on the article is warranted. I now use the iPod exclusively for multimedia matters. The Lifedrive has become too unstable to do anything productive on a multimedia front.

Second, Apple has not completely moved away from the Hard Disk drive, surprisingly, although I think that we may be seeing the last of the iPod Classics this time around.

On other more recent matters, the Foleo? Well, I think that there has been enough written by people who are much more knowledgeable than myself on this subject, so I don't think that my 2 cents are worth it. Right now Palm can almost do nothing right! I really hope that they improve over the next few months.

A special note to everyone in the Palm readership. You must, I repeat, must go to Mike Cane's exquisite series of articles entitled, The Palm Foleo Disaster Part 1.
& Part 2. (Part 2 is a lot better as it shows significant comparisons between Handspring and Palm and suggests that Palm's underlying mantra of keeping things simple which made it so successful earlier, may in fact be holding it back today and stifling innovation).

In regards to the Lifedrive itself, well I am actually looking into purchasing a Palm TX - It seems to have been well tested by many out there. The latency of the Lifedrive has finally approached my last nerve. Additionally, my infrared transmitter is acting up. I have given some consideration to setting up a solid state 'drive' but the more I think about it, the more it appears to be more of a side project than something that I seriously want to keep critical data on.

That of course leads to the question of the blog. Should I keep the name of the blog if I change devices or wrap it up? Your thoughts on this subject --- priceless.


Emptying the Pantry: First thoughts on an iPod and my Lifedrive.

*** This article was written on April 11, 2007, I forgot to release it. It was written before the new iPods were released last week. ***

So Christmas was a good time of the year for me. I received an iPod and was somewhat concerned because I have been relatively happy with my Lifedrive for all of my multimedia needs, particularly podcasts.

However, after using my iPod daily for 3 months now, I cannot believe how I have been able to live without this device for so long. The Lifedrive is no comparison to the iPod when it comes to multimedia. There are a few positives that make the Lifedrive worthy, but the advantage in terms of simplicity is something to behold.

First of all, iTunes is an unbelievable piece of software. Unlike some of its predecessors, such as MusicMatch, the iTunes music player is not a collecting ground for spam nor does it burden you with having to make categories and editing.

What is nice, is the fact that all of your podcasts are located in a podcast aggregator in iTunes, thus several very good medical podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis, are easily updated without my having to go to the websites to download them. The old episodes are immediately erased from the iPod once they have been listened to or I can change the rules in iTunes.

There are small nuances with the iPod itself. First of all, when the headphone is pulled out of the iPod, the iPod pauses, so you do not miss the podcast or song that you are listening to. To add to this, the form factor of the entire ipod series is essentially flawless. It is easy to carry, light and aesthetically pleasing.

So, how does this compare to the Lifedrive. Well the Lifedrive cannot match the iPod in physical weight. It is a heavy device that is tempermental. But it still has a lot going for it as a multimedia device. First and foremost, it is not tied down to one piece of software for its multimedia data. In fact you can obtain multimedia data from just about anywhere that can store something on an SD card or wirelessly. Secondly, it can play many more formats of movies and even podcasts without being converted. The addition of a 4gb SD card means that you can use a usb/sd card combo (see my previous writings about the card that I voted as the best Lifedrive gadget/software accessory for 2006) anytime and any place.

Picture storage on a Lifedrive would have been excellent if Palm had remembered to release the promised stand alone Memory Stick convertor for Sony cameras. It was one piece of vaporware that never made it. The SD card memory cards are quite good and the Lifedrive software does a good job in transfering that information to the device itself.

Of obtaining data, the Lifedrive excels beyond the 5th Generation iPods in that movies, readable data, music etc. all have three entry points for download. Accessed via the wireless web, data can be obtained via bluetooth, infrared or 802.11. The latter being by far the fastest method. There is also the SD/usb card option mentioned above. This is something that is quite adorable in the Lifedrive and has saved me on many occasions. The Lifedrive, like the iPod can also be used as an optional USB disk drive. BUT I CAUTION YOU NOT TO DO THIS. You will invariably run into a reset loop when you return to run your normal programs.

What of crashing? Well this is where the iPod has been overrated. You may remember many months ago I posted an article wishing for Apple to make a PDA because of the fact that Apple knows how to utilize the memory etc., without causing crashes. Well, I would like to take all of that back! The iPod does crash! But it crashes silently. The iPod doesn't do resets, in the true sense of the word, during song or movie playbacks. No, it will do it when you turn off the device after watching a movie or rummaging through several playlists. When you turn it back on, you are met with a dark screen. You almost swear that the device is broken, but looking very closely, almost requiring a tilt of the screen is a small silver Apple Logo in the center of the screen. What's going on? A silent reset that takes about 15 secs max for a 30 gigabyte iPod. It's almost predictable. However that is acceptable given the Lifedrive's woeful 3-5 minute soft resets, which often occur during critical moments. The question here is whether this blip in the Apple device accounted for the reason why Apple may turn to complete flash memory as they appear to be doing. See the iPhone and Nano series.

So, it all boils down to what you want to do with a device. As noted by Ed Colligan, the Palm CEO, the company has recognized many of the mistakes that have been made and they are taking a page out of the Apple playbook by using Linux (Apple's OS X and presumably the iPod and iPhone are running various versions of Unix) for their next offerings later this year. But let's not forget that the Lifedrive was meant for not only multimedia play but for serious use, ie. Spreadsheets, Database entry etc. and the Multimedia wizadry is something new for them. Apple has not ventured into the Handheld arena since the Newton. But they have learned and I think that Palm will take into account the need to get rid of the Hard drive solution and venture to the flash memory option to save battery life and provide a good user experience. For now, the Lifedrive remains a distant second when compared to the iPod, despite the many on-paper advantages that it has, including its own set of speakers. The out of the box quality and attention to detail and user experience appears to be in Apple's favor right now.