Randall C. Kennedy

Why I'm still right about the BlackBerry Passport (and other things)

Right

What a firestorm! I sort of knew going in that my previous entry, "Do NOT buy a BlackBerry Passport until you read this", would evoke a heated response from the BB faithful. However, I never imagined there were still so many dedicated BlackBerry fans out there. Over 200 (mostly scathing) comments later, and I can feel the rage (the "Zionist" quips, in particular, were hilarious).

Another pundit might try to backtrack in light of such unrelenting animosity. But not me! The potent combination of unbridled hubris and geographic isolation have emboldened me to double-down on my original assertions. So, instead of dancing around the issues, I’m tackling a few of the major objections head-on to show you why I’m right (and you’re all wrong) about the BlackBerry Passport.

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Do NOT buy a Blackberry Passport until you read this

Blackberry passport

BlackBerry’s got a new device, the Passport. It’s sleek, with a polished industrial design that exudes quality. It’s funky, with a non-standard size and shape that challenges the status quo. And it’s cool, with lots of innovative features you won’t find on competing devices.

In fact, BlackBerry’s new Passport is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Which is why you absolutely, positively should not buy one.

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The PC: A companion device for your smartphone

Presenting PC

New in stores: It’s the "Personal Computer" -- the ultimate companion device for your smartphone or phablet!

Ever wished your mobile device had a larger screen? Or that there was a better way to input long documents than tapping tiny little virtual keys on a slab of glass (or sapphire)? Well, then you’re a perfect candidate for PC ownership.

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OmniROM: The alternative Android ROM you should be running

omni

Want to get more out of your rooted Android device? Looking for unique features and expanded functionality? Unhappy with the CyanogenMod team selling their collective souls to the VC devil?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above, you owe it to yourself to check out OmniROM. Billed as the "anti-CyanogenMod", OmniROM is the result of efforts by several former CyanogenMod team members to create a new custom Android ROM, one that adheres to the CM team’s original vision of an open-source alternative to Google’s stock OS.

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Swapping 'Surface' for 'Lumia' -- is Microsoft really about to commit branding suicide?

face palm head in hands embarassed

Boneheaded. That’s the first word that comes to mind when I think about Microsoft abandoning its Surface branding in favor of Nokia Lumia.

You see, successful branding is a tricky business. Getting people to internalize your brand or product name as part of their everyday vocabulary is a herculean task. Coke did it. So did Xerox and Kleenex. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone to "Xerox" something, or asked the person next to me to pass me the box of "Kleenex".

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Apple, Google and the kings of 'abandonware'

shanty town

"Abandonware". It’s the scourge of the industry. Every time a vendor abandons a software product, a puppy dies. Or an orphan. Or a Java developer.

Regardless, nobody likes to see their favorite app/game/platform get left behind. It’s the worst kind of techie betrayal. You spend days, weeks or even months mastering a product only to have the virtual rug pulled out from under you.

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iOS 8 multitasking: What’s the holdup?

iOS 8 screens

Has Apple painted itself into a corner with iOS 8 multitasking? I ask because, like many technology enthusiasts, I came away from WWDC feeling a bit let down. After all, everyone and their grandmother was expecting Apple to announce some sort of split-screen multitasking capability for iOS 8. Yet when Mr. Cook and friends took the stage there was no mention of the feature.

So, what happened? According to my sources, it all comes down to a programming mechanism known as "Auto Layout". Introduced with iOS 6, Auto Layout allows developers to create apps that support dynamic resizing, using pre-defined rules for object spacing to adapt an app’s UI to fit a particular screen resolution or orientation.

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Cloud's a highway, but I hit some speed bumps on the post-PC road

road cloud

Call me a pioneer. Those who have followed my contributions of late will have noted that I'm somewhat of a post-PC fanatic. I've taken it upon myself to blaze a trail into an IT future that features virtually no Microsoft or Intel technologies. Along the way, I've managed to stitch together a fairly functional post-PC solution. However, my journey has not always been a smooth one, and I will forever carry the scars of slings and arrows gone by.

For example, as I write this I'm sitting in the nearly empty family room of the new waterfront condo my wife and I just bought near Manalapan, FL. And as is often the case with a new property, I have yet to set-up any sort of Internet access -- nor do I plan to do so since we'll only be staying in the property for a few days before returning to Mauritius.

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So long robot, I'm ditching Android

Android

Dear Google, that's it! I've had enough! Enough of the random lockups and reboots. Enough of the buggy browser and convoluted multitasking. Enough of Android!

Google, I've given you a fair shot. I drank the Kool-Aid. I joined the Android Army. And I wore my green robot tattoo thingy with pride. However, I could never shake the feeling that I've been running with the wrong crowd.

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The Church of Appletology

Apple logo China

So there I stood, in the middle of the Gardens Mall, transfixed by the sight in front of me. On my left, a seemingly endless line of bohemian-looking individuals stretching away from the doorway to the Apple Store. On my right, the much quieter entry way to the New Religion Jeans Company. Apple on one side. New Religion on the other. And then, the epiphany: Apple is a lot like the Church of Scientology!

Now before you click away at least hear me out. I'll start with origins. Scientology is the creation of one man, L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who once famously stated that "if you want to get rich, start a religion". The modern day Apple is also essentially the creation of one man, Steve Jobs, who once famously stated "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me". Clearly, both were keen financial minds -- kindred spirits, if you will, sort of opposite sides of the same coin.

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Friendly advice to a fellow post-PC traveller

travel tablet

You do even better! That's what I'd say to fellow BetaNews contributor Mihaita Bamburic if I ran into him in a hallway somewhere. As I watch with amusement, his "existential struggle" with the post-PC question, I have to chuckle a bit at his naïveté. Like most PC veterans, Mihaita tries to squeeze a square peg (tablet) into a round hole (desktop-centric thinking). He'll need to leave those preconceptions behind if he ever hopes to do more than scratch the post-PC surface.

For starters, reset your purchasing criteria. You need to forget about those expensive "clamshell" tablet/dock combos and start off with a simple, cheap Android tab. I picked up a dozen Acer Iconia A200s on eBay for use at the new school my wife and I are building. Prices ranged from $170-200 for refurbished units with 8GB or 16GB of onboard SD storage. At that price point, you can pretty much experiment to your heart's content without worrying about trashing some "transforming" device that costs more than a decent laptop.

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You're living in post-PC denial

Finger Pointing

Talk about your bitter clingers! Here I am, minding my own business, just writing about my experiences using an Android tablet, when out of the woodwork comes this wave of angry post-PC deniers. I mean, the level of rage on display is unreal. You'd think I walked into a Steve Jobs memorial service wearing an "I love Android" t-shirt or something!

For those of you who missed my earlier post, I noted how pleased I was with the outcome of my own post-PC experiment. I wrote how, with the right supporting peripherals, I could be perfectly productive on even a cheap Android tablet -- like my trusty Acer Iconia Tab 200. In fact, I was so impressed with the results that I declared being done with laptops forever. I would literally never buy another traditional laptop PC.

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I will never buy another laptop

laptop trash garbage

That is the conclusion I reached after several weeks living la vida post-PC. With nothing but my trusty Acer Iconia Tab to work on while waiting for my house sale to close in Florida (see previous post about not needing a smartphone), I've managed to remain productive and connected without touching so much as a byte of "wintel" technology.

Well, maybe a few bytes. There have been the occasional detors off the Android wagon -- for example, when I needed to quickly print, sign and re-scan some legal documents and hijacked my daughter's Dell Inspiron for a few minutes (it was like pulling teeth -- she's quite possessive of her toys). However, for the most part I accomplished everything I needed to from the comfort of my Ice Cream Sandwich-based tablet. And the secret of my success had as much to do with the accessories that I surrounded the tablet with as with the device itself.

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I don't need a smartphone

brick phone

Call me old fashioned. I do not now, and never have in the past, owned a smartphone. Whether it was due to geographic isolation (the iPhone debuted after I'd moved 11,000 miles to the Indian Ocean), fear of being a too-early adopter, or simply an inability to rationalize the cost of a non-subsidized device, I have somehow resisted the siren song of the smartphone revolution.

But that doesn't mean I'm stuck in the past. More than any of my contemporaries, I have embraced the post-PC concept with gusto. From my first attempts using an HP Mini 2140 netbook (great machine), through my awkward BlackBerry PlayBook (still love my 32GB unit) days to my present infatuation with rooted, customized Android tablets (thanks xda community!), I've seized every opportunity to put my 30+ year relationships with the "wintel" cabal behind me.

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Shanghai'd by Samsung!

Samsung IFA

It sounded like quite the road trip. Stuck in Germany, with their host threatening to strand them there unless they engaged in what amounted to slave labor, those poor bloggers from India must have been terrified. What should have been an all expense paid junket to cover the IFA conference turned into a kind of Orwellian nightmare scenario complete with heavy-handed scare tactics, logo'd polo shirts and healthy dose of international intrigue.

Frankly, I'm not at all surprised. As a 25 year veteran of the IT press, I've seen all sides of the vendor/media dichotomy. And one of the earliest lessons I learned was that there is no free lunch. When a vendor splurges on an analyst, reporter or blogger, they are expecting to get something in return. Typically, this means positive coverage. They want you to write a glowing review of their product/event/announcement, and if you don't, you'll quickly end up on their blacklist.

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