Archive for January, 2008

Vietnam trip

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I’m off to Southeast Asia for a month. Initial reason (read: excuse) is to visit a software outsourcing development shop I’m involved in, located in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Extreme programming, Ruby on Rails, Facebook apps are the current foci of the shop.

Also taking some time off to discover Cambodia, Laos, and potentially Myanmar. I think it would be an extremely interesting time to visit the latter and believe it’s relatively safe to now do so. We’ll see how things go.

I won’t have a laptop with me (only the N810), and I’m more likely to stay in a bungalow than a Hilton, so can’t make many promises as to real-time coverage on this blog, but we’ll see. Taking time off from the NYC winter has been a theme I’ve managed to keep up with since being here.

The “fPhone”: My New Best Friend

This post inspired by the Union Square Ventures guys: Fred who wrote about wanting a phone that was “free”, as in open, (hence fPhone), and Andrew with a suggestion that the Nokia N810 could be that phone, here amongst us already.

Anyone who knows me knows I feel that a good gadget is hard to find, and I secrete dopamine upon the rare union of myself and a killer gadget or piece of software that radically changes how I conduct my day-to-day life.

I’m here to say that the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet is such a device. “You complete me”…

My dream for a long time has been to have the internet on me all the time, in a fast, eye-pleasing browsing experience. The AT&T 8525 was the first to make me feel that way, as well as its successor the Tilt (HTC-8900) which brought a few minor improvements. I rave how great the Tilt is, though I join a very lonely club in raving about a Microsoft product. I think that the irony today is that Windows Mobile is the most open of the mobile OS platforms, and I’m willing to defend that view in a different conversation. (We’ll see what happens with Google’s Android).

But the phone still has so many drawbacks to hinder a true browsing experience: the screen is small, the browser can’t render many pages correctly, AT&T forces an annoying MediaNet page condenser which I can’t seem to defeat, etc.

Some feel they have the web-browsing-to-go experience now with the iPhone. I HATE the iPhone in its current incarnation for reasons others have explained before: It is a “closed device in an open world”. “A model-looking woman that you know has great looks and feel but flawed fundamentals, yet you date her because you can’t resist, can’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out ultimately.”…

I’ve also been using a Fujitsu Lifebook U810. It’s a very impressive device. A cute little yet fully-performing laptop running Windows XP (or Vista if you make the mistake of using that atrocity as of today). Battery life rocks, weighs about 2 pounds, so very easy to tote to a café or on a plane.

But you can’t have it *on you*. A bit too heavy and bulky to put on a belt clip. The keys are too small to touch-type, too big to thumb-type Blackberry style.

The N810 is amazing for what it is. Weighs nothing. A bit bigger than an iPhone. Great screen, great battery life. Everything really well thought-out from scratch. The key here is to expect everything browser-based. I run MS Exchange for my email (excellent host:, and access my email via webmail, also the built-in email client does a great job accessing via IMAP. The big show-stopper for most critics is that there’s no phone or SIM card (it does have Skype), but I don’t mind carrying a phone around in addition, and the combination of the 2 is magic. The N810 sniffs out a wi-fi signal or via Bluetooth using your phone. With my Tilt, I now have a 3G browsing experience (another advantage over the iPhone, as it’s not yet 3G). The keypad, while taking a bit of getting used to, is very solid and the keys bigger than a Blackberry.

So now I can keep the internet w/ me at all times. My new best friend. Highly recommend the product; hopefully it’s really just a prototype to make way for a new version coming w/ a phone on-board.

Xobni invites: I have 5 to give away

** UPDATE 3/20/08: this is now an old post. Offer expired. Thanks. **

Xobni is a very useful Outlook plugin.

I have 5 invites to give away (as of today), so leave a comment if you want one.