Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Technology Coolness and Annoyances

It's hard to believe that I've been working almost 3 weeks now. Can that be right? I'm still enjoying it.

Over a week ago, we went over to see what sort of things that Fuqua School of Business has to over with regards to technology. They have this amazingly cool "telepresence" video conferencing room, made by TeleSuite, which projects the person and the room in which they are sitting such that they are life-sized. It appears as if the person is sitting across the table from you and it is far more engaging that any other sort of video conferencing that I've seen. The cameras are in the center of the screen, so there is no need to look at anything other than the people with whom one is talking. There's actually nice little video that shows it off, but it's still not the same as seeing it in person.

Friday, there was a staff party at the head librarian's house. That was a lot of fun. MG made wonderful chocolate-covered strawberries.

At some point over the weekend, the touchscreen on my Treo 650 quit working. It's been acting kind of strangely for a while. It will just decide to start scrolling by itself. That's most annoying when you're trying to do something or look at something in particular. Well, I made sure that there weren't any crumbs underneath the edges of the screen, as was recommended on mytreo.net. Then it quit working all together. Soft resets don't seem to help and I guess I'll probably want to try a hard reset before I take it into the Sprint store.

While I'm complaining, I should probably say a few things about the phone, now that I've had it a while. While I love the integration of the Palm with a phone, there are some things that are annoying. For example, the screen comes on when the phone rings. The case touches the screen when it's closed, so that means that it stops the phone from ringing or vibrating. Generally, I think that means that it either won't send the call to voicemail or it doesn't say that there's been a missed call, or both. One nice feature of my Motorola Timeport was that it had a very short beep or vibrate when there was voicemail waiting. It was annoying if I were driving and I didn't want to pick it up, but it was actually extremely useful. Several times now, I've not seen that I had voicemail until I looked at the phone 5 or 6 hours later. Now, it's possible to disable the touchscreen during a call. (Now it's not like that's even necessary, since it doesn't work at all.) It's possible to get software to just disable specific things during a call. It's also possible to get software to beep and/or vibrate at certain intervals. The thing is, if you're paying several hundred dollars for a phone, it just doesn't seem right to have spend a lot more on software to bring it up to the level of an ordinary phone.

That said, when the touchscreen is working, I love it. In fact, I love that you can actually get new software to change the behavior. I love being able to chat with people when I'm waiting somewhere. Being able to read on-line books anywhere is pretty nifty, too. Checking my Gmail account is wonderful. It's generally worth all the annoyances in order to play and utilize the cool features. Now, I may have a different outlook after I visit the Sprint store, so stay tuned.

Sunday night, I met CL, JL, EB and MP at the P.F. Changs near Southpoint. That was fun getting to see them again. Dinner was great, too. We had lettuce wraps, honey shrimp, ginger chicken with broccoli and sweet and sour pork. For dessert we had banana spring rolls and the Great Wall of Chocolate cake. Both were very impressive, but I liked the banana spring rolls best. I tried to take pictures, but I wasn't able to get my Treo to go to the camera software without the touchscreen in a reasonable amount of time.

Yesterday I went with the department over to the new Bostock library building. The upper floors look beautiful and they are putting in gorgeous solid cherry furniture. It was just wild to see the results of all the construction noises, which some people there have been listening to for years. It was fun to see our cubes and imagine what it will be like to work there.

I've been wandering around West Campus during my lunch hours and I've gone over to the CIEMAS cafeteria several times now. Today, I had lunch there with GM. They have very good quiche.

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