phone stuff

  1. I dropped my Treo last week and the SD card popped out, but I didn't notice until too late. So I bought a new card of the exact same model as the last one I had (Transcend 4GB, TS4GSD150) but while the last one worked fine, the new one makes Missing Sync lose its mind when it tries to write to it. Mounting it in a card reader and copying MP3s onto it manually works fine, though, so I have no idea what the difference is between this card and the last.
  2. Nobody in SF stocks 4GB SD cards of any kind. WTF.

    Update: I bought yet another different card ("A-Data MyFlash Turbo SD 150x 4G R") and this one seems to work.

  3. File under "what are they thinking": if I have headphones plugged in and am listening to music on the Treo, and a call or SMS comes in, the sound in the headphones goes silent and the ringtone comes out of the built-in speaker instead of the headphones. How is that even remotely sensible behavior?
  4. When an SMS comes in, and I have headphones on, why doesn't it just read it to me in a robot voice?

    So not living in the future yet.

  5. I've played with two iPhones, and now I totally don't want one. The on-screen keyboard is ridiculous. I can't type on it at all. This makes me sad, because I think it's very unlikely that Apple will say, "ok, that was a mistake" and stick a keyboard with actual physical buttons on the next version. They're going to stick with that non-tactile junk forever.

    The web browser is great, the pinch-zoom thing is great, but "not being able to type the damned text messages" is a deal breaker. Also, AT&T's coverage in SF appears to blow. Also it doesn't do Flash, WTF, and there are no games.

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64 Responses:

  1. joel says:

    It took me a few hours to be able to type error-free on the iPhone. Two things that helped me:

    1. Key press events only happen when you lift up your finger, this lets you move your finger around if you hit the wrong place.
    2. When you turn the iPhone sideways in the web browser, you get a sideways keyboard, with bigger buttons.
    • kraquehaus says:

      ...and that landscape keyboard better start showing up in ALL applications soon!

    • tongodeon says:

      My girlfriend is deaf and I use my phone not to type quick cryptic SMS messages but to have full-blown conversations. Does the keyboard "not suck so bad anymore" or is it actually completely functional? By completely functional I guess I mean "you're able to type at least half as fast as I do".

      (I typed the above paragraph on my Sidekick, complete with correction, capitalization and punctuation, in 1 minute and 36 seconds on my first try.)

      • jwz says:

        Nice test. I typed that in 1:39 on my Treo. 0:37 on a real keyboard.

        • cerrus says:

          I assume that would take me about 10 minutes on my phone, but I don't do much texting so far, so I'm ok. I can't imagine any reasonable way to get a normal keyboard in miniature that doesn't result in still looking like you are 'hunting and pecking'. Perhaps in a handset you could do something feasible like having a set of keys for one hand, and you hold the device in the other hand with a couple of thumb/forefinger buttons that let you shift the keys so you'd have the full alphabet available, then you'd only need like half the size of regular keyboard.

          But come on, most people can't/won't learn a decent text editor because of the extra keybindings. You're gonna be typing on the equivalent of the one-button mouse for a long time. When the Star Trek tricorder arrives, I'll stop using my phone mostly for voice.

      • You're better off with a Sidekick, unless you're dedicated to "getting used" to the iPhone.

        I can make that speed with natural language typing (largely because of the predictive resizing of letters to match English words and the "did you mean? Just hit space!" when you're a letter or two off, even on more than half of the letters in the word--though getting the first letter right is rather more important than others), but typing things that aren't English words, especially passwords is... slow.

  2. duskwuff says:

    Flash on the iPhone depends on Adobe being not-lazy. And considering the current state of Flash on Linux...

    • jwz says:

      Youtube is re-encoding all their videos in h.264 because Apple said "jump" and they said "how high". I can't believe Apple doesn't have that kind of pull with Adobe too.

      • kraquehaus says:

        I heard that they specifically left Flash out in order to have the footing to hold the flaming hoop for YouTube to jump through.

        "We don't support flash so you better jump, bitch."

        • baconmonkey says:

          it makes sense that they'd leave flash out for several reasons.

          1. Quicktime is apple's proprietary baby
          2. it's hard to charge for games when there are so many free flash games out there
          3. what a tech support nightmare when idiots whine about how penguin golf flash game gets cut off and doesn't show up right on their iphone.

          • joe714 says:

            The WiFi bitrate h.264 videos YouTube serves up to the iPhone and AppleTV look 10x better than the same flash video, and the EDGE bitrate videos are comparable to the flash encoded ones. Full screen flash video on a HiDef tv through AppleTV would look terrible.

      • legolas says:

        Since Apple is trying to compete with them on a few of their flagship products (aperture, final cut), I'm sure Adobe won't mind letting them wait a little just to show Apple they still need Adobe...

    • ydna says:

      I'm thinking that Apple wants to hold back the Flash flood. For some sick, twisted reason, Apple seems to want/expect people to develop iPhone applications using nothing more than XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. So far, it's a very bumpy ride trying to get shit to look or work correctly (as an "integrated" application) in iPhone's Safari browser. Flash would provide one possible shortcut around that nightmare. (But still lacking local data persistence and iPhoney-like service integration.)

  3. kraquehaus says:

    After having an iPhone for a while, you get used to the some degree. I hate the Treo keyboard as well and am one of those Sidekick Guys. Typing on either the iPhone or Treo sucks equally in my opinion. You need to use the iPhone for a while to get used to it. It still pisses me off, but not nearly as much as it used to.

    Supposedly Flash support is on the horizon.

    I'm sure games will come some day.

    And, in summation, ALL carriers suck.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, I'm sure you're only the second of the 500 replies I'm going to get from fanboys saying "the keyboard is fine once you've re-trained your hands!"

      I assume that all of the people saying this just can't type very fast. I can.

      • kraquehaus says:

        I didn't say it was fine and I can type fairly fast. Not on an iPhone. No way.

        On a sidekick I can touch type. I seriously miss that.

        I have some fanboydom going, but I am still a realist. The keyboard on the iPhone is palatable once you get use to it. It is NOT as good as a real keyboard and never will be. The keyboard is very usable, but is a definite shortcoming of the phone. It was a calculated trade-off for me.

        Just like all carriers, all cell phones suck, it is just a question of what sucks too much for you. My sidekick was pissing me off and so I am moving onto the iPhone. Even so, there still is NO phone on the market that I flat-out "want".

      • baconmonkey says:

        4. ... So not living in the future yet.

        This is the future. you are not ready for the future. learn your mediaglyphs better.

      • joe714 says:

        It's not a perfect keyboard, but then again, I don't intend to use it to write my next novel either. I think it's a perfect trade off for a mobile device. In return for the soft keyboard, you get twice the screen size of any other smart phone when you're not typing.

        Then again, I've never owned a crackberry. Going up from a RAZR though, it's useable to enter URLs, SMS and short emails.

      • rob_from_ca says:

        I'm not the fastest typist on either blackberry or iPhone I'm sure, but I put together a quick video comparing my speed on the two

        I thought the keyboard was going to be the biggest pisser, but I actually like it quite a bit. Could be that the touchscreen is just so wonderfully responsive, could be that I'm totally brainwashed. :-) My one piece of advice is to skip the "type with your index finger" suggestion that Apple suggests, it's a totally different motion that won't help you. It might help train your brain to trust the auto-correct stuff, but it's not helping your muscle memory. I just barreled right in with thumb typing from the start, and quickly learned that I didn't need to be accurate.

      • tongodeon says:

        I assume that all of the people saying this just can't type very fast. I can.

        Instead of saying subjectively vague things like "fine" or "not fine" to describe the keyboard I've created a simple test to see how much the iPhone keyboard does or does not suck after someone has re-trained their hands.

  4. fishbliss says:

    1. Maybe the SD card needs to be formatted, either by the Treo or by Missing Sync?

    2. Costco has them. Sandisk Ultra II.

    5. Funny, I can type better on the iPhone than I did on the Treo, and I was
    pretty good with the Treo. iPhone doesn't crash on me as often as my poor
    old Treo 650 did. Could you use a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPhone?

    Yeah, WTF, where are the iPhone games. Not even breakout of pong as an
    easter egg.

  5. ydna says:

    For a lot of people, the iPhone keyboard is always going to be a non-starter. But I think I lucked out. I already hated physical keypads on phones. The one on my MDA (HTC8500) was decent enough, but the keys were very heavy. I took Mossberg's review of the keyboard on faith and just forgot about what I was typing. Just let it go and accepted that it would either work or not work. I just smacked the keys roughly where I think they key should be as fast as I can. Every few words, I look up and am surprised to see what I meant to type displayed. Sure, it fucks up now and then. It goes to hell with any technical topics. I haven't used it enough to see if it learns my lingo. Now that I know how to bring up the magnifying glass (tap-hold) to place the insertion point and quickly get to the period and comma keys (tap-hold-slide on the number symbol, release on the symbol key), things have really sped up. I find myself writing full sentences using Real Wordsâ„¢ instead of like some collision of prison and high school code language.


  6. tiff_seattle says:

    Windows Mobile with Voice Command will read your SMS and email to you, if you have that feature turned on. It startled me at first, because I wasn't expecting my phone to read my email to me.

  7. autopope says:

    When an SMS comes in, and I have headphones on, why doesn't it just read it to me in a robot voice?

    Be glad ...

    My eighty year old mother has a mobile phone and phones me with it. Alas, her grasp of its functionality is not 100% adequate. She has me in the address book ... but she persistently sends text messages to my British Telecom landline. Whereupon BT activate their text-to-speech gateway so my landline calls me and I get this robot trying to translate text-speak into English. It has a limited vocabulary, no grasp of the abbreviations she uses (because, oddly enough, eighty year olds contract words when texting but don't use eighteen year old slang), and has a high-band cut-off that makes it barely comprehensible at the best of times. And it makes me listen through the whole thing before it'll let me hang up without calling back.

    Nothing quite compares with being serially stalked by a robot with a speech impediment spouting gibberish.

    • baconmonkey says:

      Nothing quite compares with being serially stalked by a robot with a speech impediment spouting gibberish.

      wow, you an JWZ have the same fetish!

  8. sc00ter says:

    Yah, I got to play with an iPhone the other day and it seems if you just type and put your fingers where you think they should go you will make mistakes but it seems to auto correct them. But typing on glass is odd, and it would be impossible to type a quick message while driving (and if you should or not is not the question, people do it all the time).

    As far as the treo, the SD slot is a horrible design, I've lost a card, and a coworker has lost two.

    At least you haven't run into the "stuck headphone jack problem" where when you take the headphone cable out the treo will forever think the headphones are still there and you're forced to use a headset, bluetooth, or replace the treo. I've been through two treos due to that and a coworker had to replace his.

    • jwz says:

      I did have that exact thing happen to my Treo headphone jack, actually, but it was under warranty and they replaced it the same day. That's one of the nice things about Sprint, around here at least: over the last two years, I've had to replace my Treo 4 times, and each time they've just handed me a new one in the store rather than making me wait for snail-mail. (This isn't exactly a vote for the robustness of Treo hardware, but as long as they keep swapping it out under warranty, who cares!)

      • grahams says:

        I bought the Sidekick when it first came out... I went through 4 B/W sidekicks in the months leading up to the release of the Color Sidekick. Each time I had to wait a week or so for the new phone to arrive in the mail. Finally, on the 5th replacement they upgraded me to the color.. And I went through several of them too...

        For the Sidekick 2, they changed hardware manufacturers, and while the hardware on the SK was unreliable, I decided to give the SK2 a change, and took their upgrade offer... And I went through 3 of those...

        Eventually I came to my senses and ditched both the Sidekick and T-Mobile..

        So while the Treo might not be as reliable as it could be, it could be worse...

        Of course, when I ditched the SK and T-Mo, I got a RAZR from Cingular, and I exchanged two of those before ending up on a Samsung slider that has been a trooper (in comparison to the past several years I've spent dealing with crap phone hardware..

      • sc00ter says:

        Ah, figures.

        There's a story online somewhere of somebody that went through I think 5 Treos. He basically said that he got it, and that was a feature, and he was going to keep using it because that was part of the reason he bought it (to double as an mp3 player). After the 5th one they refused to replace it. I don't recall the carrier.

  9. baconmonkey says:


    John has the opposite evil, and I want to stab him for it.
    rather than voicemail, his now does speech-to-text, and texts him your message. press # and it will text you a copy the insane mush it interpreted as your message. speaking slowly and clearly doesn't matter.

  10. jlabeatnik says:

    I'm sure a third party vendor will have keyboards available in a flash.

  11. telecart says:

    When an SMS comes in, and I have headphones on, why doesn't it just read it to me in a robot voice?

    So not living in the future yet.

    We have that here, you should ask your service provider. You can either set all your text messages to be received as phone calls with freaky voices, or from certain hours, etc. That's also what happens automatically for some providers when you SMS a landline number.

    The on-screen keyboard is ridiculous. I can't type on it at all.
    So I hear. I'm pretty used to shitty regular-kepad SMS typing, and I'm pretty damn fast with that, but I guess I'll get used to anything. Having said that, I agree with you that people want tactile buttons. Which is why I think the future looks something like this.

  12. wfaulk says:

    This doesn't actually help, but 4GB SD cards are a lousy hack. The SD standard maxes out at 2GB. As I understand it, 4GB cards are possible because the size of blocks is part of the SD metadata and it's possible to make it bigger than the spec actually allows.

    So companies tested those 4GB cards a little and they worked sometimes, so they released them. Then people started buying them and returning them because they didn't work, and companies don't like having that much product returned, so they make fewer of them, so they're hard to come by now. (This is largely speculation.)

    As to why one 4GB SD card worked for you an another didn't. I can't really say why. Apparently different vendors implemented it differently, though I don't understand how you can differently implement "make this number bigger". And, yes, I understand that you bought the same model, but surely you're aware that that doesn't actually mean it's the same thing.

    The upshot of all of this is that you just need to keep buying and returning until you find one that works. There's no guaranteed compatibility.

    On the other hand (I've not used a 4GB SD card in a Treo) is it possible that you had to install some driver update for the Treo to allow it to read 4GB cards properly that maybe was installed on the card itself and is therefore gone now?

    • jmissig says:

      I don't know too many details, but the SD Card Association seems to have standardized the higher-density SD hacks into an official standard called SDHC:

      • wfaulk says:

        There is a new SDHC spec from the SD people (which has its own new arbitrary limit of 2TB), but it might as well be a completely new flash card format, as SD readers cannot read SDHC cards, though SDHC readers can read SD cards. All of which means that it doesn't help Jamie at all, since he can hardly swap out the card reader in his Treo.

    • lovingboth says:

      If it were me, and I dropped it, and this happened, and the new SD card works in a reader but not the Treo, I'd be wondering if it might be the Treo that has the problem, not the SD card...

      • jwz says:

        Nope; if I run the Missing Sync app (which lets the Treo's SD card mount as a drive on the desktop) file transfers work just fine. So that's using Treo hardware to read and write the card, and everything happens speedily and checksums fine.

        It must be that they sent me some completely different model of SD card than the last one, despite it having the same model number printed on it.

        But why it's only Missing Sync that doesn't like this card, I don't know.

        • unwiredben says:

          You can use the Card Info app on the device to tell who was the actual manufacturer of the card. The Kingston 2GB miniSD card in my Treo 755p was actually made by Toshiba. I would be pretty surprised if Transcend made their own cards.

  13. solarbird says:

    As someone who carried an IBM Model M around from dev position to dev position, I was very surprised when I did not hate and loathe the screenboard. I thought if I could deal with it, anybody could.

    Clearly that was wrong. Interesting.

  14. merovingian says:

    >When an SMS comes in, and I have headphones on, why
    >doesn't it just read it to me in a robot voice?

    If it would help, I'd happily offer to read your SMS messages to you in a robot voice.

    I'd even interject "Destroy All Humans!" and so on into the middle of the messages.

  15. Treo is releasing a firmware update for the 700p. Sprint is out, Verizon "coming soon".
    Claims to address 4GB issues.

  16. xthlcm says:

    I will buy an iPhone when they manage to miniaturize this particular bit of technology. The effect is pretty cool actually -- the unit I heard about uses interference patterns in vibrations from the actuators to create tactile feedback in small regions of the screen. For touchscreens with pressure sensing they can create a vibration when touching a button and a "click" when pressing it.

  17. superbacana says:

    File under "what are they thinking": if I have headphones plugged in and am listening to music on the Treo, and a call or SMS comes in, the sound in the headphones goes silent and the ringtone comes out of the built-in speaker instead of the headphones. How is that even remotely sensible behavior?

    It prevents you from missing a call when you have the headphones plugged in but they're not on your head (oh, and you also left the music on). I'm not defending it, but that's why it's remotely sensible.