SMT 5600

YAY! I am now the proud owner of a Audiovox UTStarcom SMT 5600. (On November 30, 2005, UTStarcom  aquired the cellular subsidiary of Audiovox Corporation) The phone in all its gadget pride is displayed below:

SMT 5600

I’ve owned a Dell Axim X30 for slightly over a year and bought it initially to access the Internet when I was away from my office. Temple University has been ranked for two consecutive years as one of the most wired campuses in the nation and so there’s always an access point that is within reach. The connection worked flawlessly for basic surfing and synchronizing mail was a breeze. However, over time I realized that I rarely used the mobile versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel. Furthermore, I kept hitting various obstacles, the biggest of which was that I could not make phone calls with the Axim and trying to use programs like Skype did not work because of various proxy issues. Most of all carrying both a phone and a PDA were becoming a bit too cumbersome.

So late last year I started looking at devices again and found more convincing evidence that I should be using a smartphone – a single device that integrated both phone capabilities with basic PDA functionality. After debating between Cingular’s 2125 and the SMT 5600 I finally settled for the SMT 5600 primarily because of the prize differential. It’ll be an interesting experiment in terms of device changes as I’m not the best with the whole T9 lifestyle. Nevertheless, I figure I should give it a shot and maybe over time I’ll save up enough for the Samsung’s SCG-i730 EV-DO Pocket PC. As for now, the fun of synchronizing my SIM card contacts with my Outlook contacts has begun.

Anyone looking for a Dell Axim X30?

SpringHill Suites

One Destination. One goal. One Day. Okay, that wasn’t a good marketing pitch but nevertheless this past weekend as part of a BzzAgent promotion some friends and I decided to make use of a free night’s stay at the SpringHill Suites. I had to choose a location to stay at before the end of April, which isn’t very hard when you’re on a budget, but when you’re given a free night’s stay, the primary goal is to make sure you get the best deal. Being part of the Marriott group implied that there were umpteen SpringHill Suites locations to choose from too. Decisions!

Nevertheless, thanks to the nice week of weather and most of us having some kind of Spring break, we decided to head to Virginia Beach. The beach is about 6 hours away depending on who’s driving and since none of us had been to this particular beach we decided to make the trip down to Virginia Beach a semi road-trip. We left from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Gaithersburg, Maryland. After crashing at a friend’s house for the evening and spending most of the time eating (Indonesian Food, Cheesecake Factory, Whole Foods Markets) we finally reached Norfolk twenty-eight hours after leaving Philadelphia. I guess you could say we weren’t trying very hard to stick to the original plan.

The SpringHill Suites is designed with the goal of giving you space and comfort. To accent the room comforts, the interior designers definitely have used lights, pictures and vivid colors for furniture, upholstery and carpeting. Obviously, our primary purpose was to spend time at the beach so we didn’t really have much time to enjoy the comforts of the room. Nevertheless, the trip was so much more enjoyable because Marriott took time to design the perfect room. For example, the sleeping arrangements for five people in the room ended up being perfect because of all the extra space. Space that was left over after two queen beds, a pullout sofa, office table and chair, refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave, closets, sinks and other wooden furniture whose names I’ll simply refer to as tables. With five people sleeping on the beds and pullout sofa we still had plenty of extra space for our beach gear. Since Andrew brought his iBook we were hoping to be able to try out the Internet service but apparently there was some problem with a router that was affecting Internet access from down-town Norfolk. To complement the room, there was a nice pool – a bit shallow as Andrew found out with a bump on his head, but shallow or deep, we still used the pool for about a half hour. As for the  gym area, none of us even dared to stop by. Breakfast in the morning was free and consisted of waffles, coffee, various fruit and yogurt dishes, muffins, biscuits, sausage, eggs and tons of cereal.

In terms of feedback, some items that we would have changed in the room include the addition of an extra trashcan, sink and mirror to the restroom. I guess Marriott isn’t really expecting anyone to spend too much time in the bathroom.  Nevertheless, if you’re looking for a nice hotel to stay at, need space, comfort and free breakfast, I highly recommend any of the SpringHill Suites. As for the rest of the break, well we left wishing that we had a couple more free nights.

If you’re interested in becoming part of a word-of-mouth program consider joining BzzAgent – they have a well organized program and have great campaigns you can participate in. Plus, the free gifts are always nice.


Google has just aquired Writely. I should have registered for a Writely beta account when it was first announced but figured that I had no immediate need to edit my documents from anywhere. Now, it feels weird to suddenly realize that I want an account to test out the service just because Writely is now a Google product. The power of a brand.

Office 2007 User Interface

According to Jensen Harris, the Office 2007 User Interface has been updated and can be previewed by visiting the Office 2007 UI Preview Site. One of the nice things is the introduction of the Office Button. I feel that this will help make troubleshooting problems much easier. The new interface also showcases the ability to customize the look and feel of Office 2007 by way of themes and perhaps most significant in this update is the overall face lift given to the Contextual Tabs. Jensen Harris’ blog is a great read for anyone interested in usability studies and the design choices made in Office 2007.