The Acronym (May 2006 Edition)

May 26, 2006

Dear Clients and Friends,

It brings me great joy to proclaim, “It’s the month of May and the Bear is back.” My dear friend and long time travel partner, Mr. Bear, was hospitalized from late March until the end of April. During this stay he began kidney dialysis, but has continued to fight his health battles with a courageous demeanor and refusal to give in. It has been my pleasure to coordinate his health care services and serve as his Power of Attorney for more than 2 years. Mr. Bear has provided me with invaluable assistance as well by serving as my “spiritual” advisor. Having accumulated 15 years of bar tending experience, he is always there to guide me whether vodka or bourbon is appropriate for the cocktails I am making for my dinner guests. Bear Enterprises is alive and well. We’ve made it through another storm. They say cats have 9 lives, but the ol’ Bear is of a different breed entirely.

Spring is here, but this chill makes me reminisce over the many Aprils I spent on the shores of Cape Cod when I was a teenager. It wouldn’t bother me if it were 50 to 60 degrees all year, but those who call New England their home know there are no happy mediums in our weather system. The Red Sox and Yankees are locked in a duel for first place. It rains every couple of days. Nothing has changed. This is a pattern we’ve gotten used to over the past several years.

There have been some important developments in the computer world recently. The term “Pentium 4” is quickly working its way out of a computer buyer’s vocabulary. Intel has unveiled its new Core line of processors. Many new Windows based and all new Macintosh based systems use these chipsets. Intel has found a way to reduce energy requirements, but also boost performance significantly. Many new systems with Intel Core technology feature the state of the art Core Duo processors. Each CPU features two cores or 2 brains to put it in layman’s terms. This setup is the equivalent of converting a 2-lane data highway to a 4-lane expressway without making the cars run faster. In this age of soaring energy prices, these power efficient processors can make an impact. Laptop users should gain the most from this technology. Despite all the gains laptops have made over the past few years bringing the level of their performance on par with most desktops, there have not been great strides made to improve battery life. Intel did release Centrino laptop processors a few years ago that theoretically brought battery life close to the 5 hour mark. Unfortunately, manufacturers didn’t offer these processors in all systems and were more concerned with producing low-end portables in the $500 to $600 range to lure in new business. I have to state right now, honestly – that if you’re not looking to pay at least $750 to $1000 for a complete desktop system or $1000 to $1500 for a laptop, before any “blue moon specials” or sales discounts are applied, you are likely doing yourself a huge disservice. Yes, the price of modern technology has come down. However, you still get what you pay for. And while I will always sell you and / or set up a computer for you in any price range you choose; I will be totally honest with you about the quality and appropriateness of the particular model you are considering. Due to manufacturers’ insistence on promoting their low-end systems instead of their more competent wares, average laptop battery life has remained in the 2 to 3 hour range. Hopefully, as Intel Core and other energy efficient processors become the rule and not the exception, consumers will see that there is greater long-term value in making wise purchasing decisions at the onset.

Please contact me for a personal review of new computers on the market or to evaluate the possibility of upgrading your current system. Given the TRUE price of a new system, it may be more prudent to upgrade.

Going the extra mile for you,
Kevin

Lives Not Lost In Vain

by Kevin

Memorial Day 2006 has arrived and our country is still locked in fierce military engagements around the globe. I will not use this short commentary to condone or condemn such actions by our government. However, I firmly believe that there is a price to pay for being free and to live in a country which affords you the most self-directed decision making power in the world. As civilians, many of us pay our dues by volunteering, choosing to attend houses of worship without coercion, and serving in local government. The civilized and orderly way in which we deal with our daily problems even when our government or free enterprise system wrongs us proves our commitment to the American way of life. Please never ever forget the members of our Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, Coast Guard, along with local law enforcement and emergency rescue personnel – who have made the ultimate sacrifice and continue to do so to keep us out of harm’s way. September 11, 2001 may be a distant memory in your mind. It will never be far from my mind and heart. There are enemies, hell bent on destroying the American Dream that generations have worked so hard at preserving. Don’t ignore the real and imminent danger that we face. Regardless of your political views, make a special effort this Memorial Day to thank some soldiers on active duty or veterans in uniform when you see them at a public place.

Visit the all-new Connecticut Veterans Memorial in West Hartford at the intersection of N. Main St. and Farmington Ave. Be proud of the country you call home and take heart in the fact that if you not are happy with the present leadership, you do have a chance to effect change in the near future. When are the people of China, Cuba or Iran going to have their chance? When?

During a trip to a convenience store in the summer of 2004, I realized first hand the sinister vision people we encounter in every day life have for our country. Upon entering the store, the clerk just started blurting out that he “knew what really happened on 9/11.” A fiery blaze burned in this man’s eyes as he said “It was the Jews my friend. They must be stopped.” Could this man be your friend? I was so angry that I wanted to rip his head off. Instead, I showed restraint and civility. I walked out without buying anything. This folks is why people hate us. They hate that we can make rational decisions and still win. Keep your eyes open, NEVER FORGET, and remember those who have perished to preserve your future and livelihood.

Really Honest Reviews
by Kevin

Sanyo RL-4930
Dual Band / Tri Mode Cell Phone

You’d have to live in a cave not to know that the hottest cellular devices advertised today are of the flip phone variety. They are compact, chic, and featured in movies. It’s no wonder that they generate all the headlines. Since the introduction of the Motorola StarTAC in the late 1990’s, flip phones have become a staple of the American gadget landscape and in some cases a fashion statement.
But for many people, due to work requirements or personal preference, a flip phone is not practical. In the beginning, these “clamshell” phones did not get comparable reception to candy-bar style phones. By and large they are more fragile. People who are “frequent talkers” would worry about the hinge of their phone breaking from repeated use. On the other hand, the quality of these phones has increased substantially in recent years.

Still, people who work in construction and other professional trades often prefer a candy bar phone because they are more rugged. They are less likely to break if dropped and generally have a more powerful speakerphone – an essential feature at a noisy job site. For years, Nokia was the leader in candy bar phones. However there are several other manufacturers that produce respectable devices. The number of these phones on the market is dwindling, but a modest demand is likely to continue well into the future.
I recently had the privilege of testing the Sanyo RL-4930 in the metro Hartford area. This phone is offered by Sprint. It operates on the 800 and 1900 MHZ CDMA digital wireless bands and the 800 MHZ analog band as well. It’s important to note that this phone can receive a signal in analog areas. This is an important feature for those who travel extensively. Even in Litchfield and Windham counties here in Connecticut, strong digital signal penetration exists in many locations. However, phones that still offer an analog option provide people with added piece of mind. The FCC has mandated that cellular service providers no longer have to maintain their analog towers after 2008. Many duplicate towers will be taken down or converted to digital. It is not something that should cause you to worry.

Another safety feature present in the RL-4930 is a GPS chip allowing emergency personnel to more accurately locate you in the even of a 911 call. Beginning a few years ago, all new cell phones sold in the USA had to offer Enhanced 911 (E911) capability. Some carriers use a triangulation method to meet the federal standard and others, Sprint included, have installed a GPS chip inside the phone. This feature significantly increases your ability to be located when placing a 911 call.

Design wise, the Sanyo RL-4930 is quite small for a candy-bar phone. It is only 4.5 inches long and weighs 4.4 ounces. An extendable antenna protrudes from this phone. It can fit easily in a standard pocket, but not a tight pocket. It has a rubberized grip on each side, giving the user confidence as they hold it. The RL-4930 has a volume rocker conveniently located on the right side. There is a button below the O and # keys to activate the speaker phone. The speaker is located on the back of the phone above the battery door. The speaker produces a booming sound that really surprised me. The powerful speaker phone is one of the greatest assets of this model. There is a jack for a (wired) headset on the upper right side, for those of you who want to be in perfect compliance with our state’s “distracted driving” law. The phone’s menus are easy to navigate on the RL-4930’s crisp color screen. The keys, although a little small for my large fingers, feel responsive and accurate.

It’s important to know that this phone is not Bluetooth capable. If you need to use a headset with this phone, it must be corded one. Furthermore, this phone is not third generation (3G) data capable. Many depend on their cell phones for Internet and email access today. I don’t, but mobile web surfing is a reality in 2006. Data access speeds on the RL-4930 are rated at “1X” meaning they top out at about 150 kbps in a strong signal area. If you remember back to the dial-up internet era, your modems topped out at 56 kbps. Although a 1xRTT cell phone seems about three times faster, it may not seem so fast to you, when you factor in the time it takes for the wireless signal to reach your phone (and return to the tower when you send data out).
Final Analysis: 7.5** out of 10** Pros: A durable phone with a blaring external speaker. Easy to navigate menus. Colorful ring tones pre-installed on the phone. A viable alternative to clamshell style phones. Cons: No Bluetooth. No high-speed data. Price = $0.00 to $40.00 w/ new activation.

Motorola E815
Dual Band / Dual Mode Cell Phone

If you are looking for a cell phone that embraces all of today’s technological advancements, but doesn’t cut corners – the Motorola E815 should fit the bill nicely. The first thing I notice about this phone is its sturdiness. It does not look like a cheap flip phone manufactured at the lowest common denominator. This is not the handset with poor battery life, poor sound quality, and lack of features that they use to lure you into the store. The E815 is a powerhouse clamshell designed phone that can be your trusted sidekick on the daily grind.

I recently had the pleasure of testing this phone in the metro Hartford area. The E815 is Bluetooth capable and EVDO high-speed Internet ready. It runs on the Verizon Wireless network at frequencies of 800 and 1900 mhz in the digital spectrum. For those of you who place a premium on organization, the E815 lets you sync your contacts and calendar between the computer and phone. This can easily be done with an optional data cable or through the aforementioned wireless Bluetooth connection. Many consumers have griped that Verizon prohibits the transfer of pictures and other objects such as ring tones via the Bluetooth connection. This is very true. Out of all the major cellular providers in the market today, Veirzon is the most restrictive about Bluetooth usage. Customers have the right to do business with other providers if they don’t like certain policies. I think people who want to waste their day transferring pictures and sounds from their cell phones to their computers have TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS!!! Get a life! You can always buy the data cable on eBay for about $10.

Aside from those minor limitations, I found it very easy to sync my address book and calendar between my Mac and the E815 during testing. It works just as well on a Windows based PC. The keypad on this phone is terrific. The buttons are the perfect size for large fingers (hint, hint!). Typing with them is a responsive and accurate process. The color internal screen is bright and clear. There is a sophisticated earpiece above the color screen that produces nearly distortion-free sound during a call. I would rate the speakerphone as just average. For those of you who talk in the car you can use the Bluetooth headset you got for your birthday with this model to be compliant with our distracted driving laws. For those of you who don’t want to fry your brains with any more radiation, you can use a standard (wired) headset with this phone as well.

If you like to surf the Internet on the go, you won’t have to wait all day to get connected. The EVDO connection can generate download speeds averaging 300 to 700 kbps. This is nearly as fast as entry level DSL. You can perform basic Internet features like checking email, read news, get sports scores, and track stocks, but the E815 is not a computer. When all is said and done, the Motorola E815 is an extraordinary cell phone. It’s great if you just want to use it for talk and can “kick it up a few notches” if you want something more. Pay no attention to some of those Internet reviews that rate this phone poorly. These individuals improperly “hacked” (modified) their phones. They voided their warranties and broke the terms of their service agreement. In my opinion, they got what they deserved for trying to steal services they should have paid for.
Final Analysis: **9.0 out of 10** Pros: Solid flip style cell phone. Not too big. Not too small. Strong signal strength. Superior voice quality. Bluetooth and EVDO capable. Cons: Doesn’t use JAVA enabled web browser. No analog. Some multimedia features disabled. Price: $50 to $100 with new activation.
(Note: Opinions expressed are for informational purposes only and do not represent blanket endorsements. Please contact Kevin for personalized recommendations.)

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Specializing in computers, Internet, Digital Television, DVD, terrestrial and satellite radio, cellular telephones, wireless home and small office networking, iPods and more. Thorough consultations, training and product sales. In business since 1997.

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