Thursday, April 14, 2005

Solstice Brings a Long Day for Apprentice Hopefuls

If you saw The Apprentice today, you know Pontiac starts taking orders for the Solstice tomorrow. Sign me up! Sure, maybe I'm biased. I spent 18 years working for General Motors. I've heard some insider information about this new roadster. None of that would matter anyway. Even a blind man couldn't miss the beautiful curves of this gem. I've been planning to part with my 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider this summer and I'm searching for a suitable replacement. Pontiac definitely has a winner. I went on-line tonight and got an official early order ID. I'll be heading to the dealer tomorrow afternoon to see if that number lets me place an order.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

How to Beat eBay

Alyce Lomax at Motley Fool wrote a bunch of backhanded compliments about eBay and how she missed the boat in the 90's. She avoided eBay expecting it to eventually collapse after the dot com burst. I wouldn't have agreed back then (or now). Unfortunately, I didn't put my money where my mouth was. Now my neighbor drives a new car wearing a plate that reads "4MYEBAY" and I still have no eBay stock.

I still think eBay has a sound business model and I should probably buy the stock even at today's inflated prices and despite the sharp decline in 2005. Their long term outlook always looks excellent due to their powerful network effect. Plenty of other on-line auction options exist including big players like Yahoo and Amazon but they can't catch eBay which has already passed critical mass. If you want to sell something, you will have the best results by listing it on eBay because that's where the most buyers shop. Likewise, you have the best chance to find what you are shopping for on eBay because that's where the most sellers are. As long as that symbiotic relationship exists, eBay will be king (baring them doing anything blatantly stupid). However, I have a few ideas that could turn the tables on that relationship.

Friday, April 1, 2005

Treo 650 vs. the Alternatives

I got some Treo 650 questions from somebody over at

I am seriously considering purchasing a Treo 650. I have a Sanyo 7400 currently. I talk while driving often enough for that to be a concern for me. Is it cumbersome to use while driving? Does a bluetooth headset make talking on the phone very easy, driving or otherwise? I use a BT headset right now with my 7400, with an adapter, and I have different ring tones for some of my main contacts. It makes it nice and easy to make calls and I can use voice dialing with the headset as well.

I also will be using Vision a lot, even more so on the 650 since my guess is, it is much better on the 650 than on any other regular phone, since the screen is so much bigger, and you have a full QWERTY keyboard. Do you have Vision and browse normal websites often?

I have read a lot about bugs and soft/hard resets. This is perhaps the biggest thing that is making me hesitate buying this. How much of this is do you think is caused by 3rd party software people try to install and how much of it is just the inherent programming of the 650

My wife uses the 650. I use an LG 325 and an iPAQ 1945. I prefer Pocket PCs over Palm devices. I use Bluetooth to connect the two.

If you talk on the phone a lot and that's the most important factor to you, I'd recommend the LG325 and a good Bluetooth headset. The Bluetooth on the 650 isn't as good (it's crackly sounding). The 650 does not have voice dialing. If you need to place a lot of calls while driving, I think you will find the touch screen difficult to use. Actually, the Sony Ericsson T608 is the best to use while driving. Not only does it have voice recognition and rubber keys that are easy to dial by feel, but you also get speaker independent digit dialing. That's something missing from the LG325. With the T608 you can place calls by speaking the phone number into a Bluetooth headset and never touch the phone. My dream is for a Bluetooth headset with a voice recognition system as advanced as the Samsung A700 (provided by VoiceSignal). The phone has "natural speech" dialing that makes it super easy to use hands-free.

I had a love/hate relationship with the T608. It's still one of the best feature sets ever offered by Sprint but its super buggy, the battery life is dismal, and the display is hard to read. The LG325 is missing some key features but it's a much more polished phone.

If you need PIM features and quick internet access, the 650 is the way to go. Using the browser on the Treo is a real joy. It's nicely integrated. It starts up quick and reliably. However, if you want real applications (Word, Excel, maps) and a big display, the iPAQ/325 combo is the best even though internet connectivity is more cumbersome. The Bluetooth link is sketchy.

The 650 screen is excellent. The keyboard is nice though I'm used to a stylus. "Normal" websites look horrible on the 650 and even the iPAQ. There's just no substitute for a laptop. Everything is designed for 800 x 600 displays. However the Treo is a very capable web browser and works great with Vision. If I have a little more time or I'm trying to view a particularly difficult site, Pocket Internet Explorer on the iPAQ is a much better browser.

The 650 certainly has some bugs, but it's an improvement over the 600 (had one of those too). It's just never going to be as stable as a "regular" phone like the 7400.