Blackberry 9300 — Impressed

30 March, 2011

Blackberry 9300

This is just a quick post to say how impressed I am with my new Blackberry.

It’s not all good: the querty keyboard is useful but the little keys are really awfully small: my fingers are pretty svelte, and I wonder how peeps with bigger digits manage to type. Also, it’s not in the same league as the lovely iPhone, in terms of general sexiness and loveliness of touch-screen internet manipulation and navigation. I’m sure the apps are better in iPhone land too. And the iPhone screen is much larger, of course.

However… for communications it’s absolutely wonderful! I got one because a v. good pal of mine has one, and loved it. She told me that all she had to do to set up her email was enter her email address and password–none of that stuff that’s normally necessary about identifying hosts/ISPs/whatever, and various bits of techno mumbo-jumbo. I was a little sceptical, but she was absolutely right! I turned it on and told it my email addy and password, and the next minute I was getting my emails on my phone. I have several email addies, and so a few minutes after that I was getting *all* of them as soon as they were delivered. Impressive.

Although the iPhone prolly has the best selection of apps in the world, the Blackberry has lots of good ones too. I just don’t buy them via B/berry App World’s weird Paypal setup *g* I’ve been very happy with them, anyway, and spent about two whole days just downloading stuff and trying it out. I love gadgets, so I was in clover :)

I’ve also been v. impressed by the WordPress app thingy for Blackberries. I’ve yet to work out how to make piccies appear in the correct sort of size, but everything other than that was seamless. If I take this little thing camping then I’ll have no problem at all blogging.

I just thought I’d mention this for the benefit of anyone who might be considering a Blackberry. There are lots of models, of course, and it may be that I should have got one of the higher-spec ones, but this one is ‘only’ £20pm from Vodafone with unlimited texts and lots of phone minutes and loads of internet access. (If you ring them, they’ll give you £5 off the website prices, as far as I can see, as a reward for doing it over the phone rather than in a shop. So I’m getting the £25pm deal for £20pm.)

Right! Off to eat dinner now.

Aagh… Major pre-Challenge GAS attack…

30 April, 2010

Well with the Challenge almost upon us I’ve been laid low by an exceptionally virulent strain of Gear Acquisition Syndrome (or GAS).

A few days ago–and having read horrible, unrepeatable things about parasites in water–I decided that maybe I ought to update my existing water filtration plan. From non-existent, that is, to…well, something, at least. I did buy one of the original Travel Taps from Bob and Rose a couple of years ago, but because back then I was using a Platty with drinking tube I didn’t want to carry two systems and so didn’t actually use it. It’s still sitting in a cupboard somewhere.

I’m not using the Platty with drinking tube at the moment, though, mainly because since Piglet arrived I’ve rarely had space for a water-filled Platty in my pack, and so the idea of using the filter bottle seemed more feasible. I remembered reading that the original had been improved, and after a chat with Bob I decided to invest in a new one. At the same time there were a couple of other things I needed, and so therefore I’ve already invested in the following.

1. Travel Tap.
2. Primus Windshield.
3. Canister Feet.
4. Gehwol Refreshing Balm.
5. Gehwol Axle Grease. (In fact it goes by a different name, but I can’t find it on Bob’s site and so this one will have to do for now.)

The windshield was Phil’s fault. He showed me his Primus and promised that it would fit snuggly into my Kettley thing. It looked so lovely and neat–and so much smaller than my home-made windshield–that I couldn’t resist it, and so now it’s sitting on the kitchen table, awaiting deployment into the rucksack.

It does fit into the Kettley thing when wrapped around a 250 canister, but only just. The little rivets on the side scrape tramlines into the sides of the Kettley thing (thereby dislodging wee slivers of aluminium which will probably bring on my incipient dementia at a huge rate of knots…uh-oh…), and I’m going to have to tuck a piece of string or similar underneath the canister on packing up each morning, in order to be sure that I’ll be able to get it out in the evening. Still, it will work, I think, and so I’ve saved a bit of space (albeit added a little weight, on balance).

The Gehwol creams were Bob’s idea. I’ve used the Gehwol Axle Grease in the past and it’s pretty fantastic stuff, but I hadn’t got round to replacing the tube. Last Autumn I had a problem in the Dales, though, when I developed a case of trench foot after only a day of walking in consistently wet conditions in my Inov8s. Fortunately it was the last day, because the following day my foot was so sore that I could barely stand on it. That made me worry about whether I’m now so decrepit that I need less water-permeable footwear for the Challenge, but the Soloman mids I’ve been trying out have aggravated my chronic achilles tendonitis. Aaaagh! In the circumstances I propose to return to Inov8s and plaster my feeties with enough Gehwol to scare the trench foot away. Crubeens crossed, please, and watch this space.

That’s not the end of it, though. Over the course of the last few days I’ve compiled a little list of other things I’d like to get. Not so much because I actually need them, as that I’d simply like to have them.

6. Inov8 Terroc 308s. I’ve been using Roclite 315s for backpacking for several years now, but I feel like a change. My existing Roclites are looking very worn underneath, and I propose to reserve them for walking Piglet in the woods. I liked the Terrocs that I used to own (the originals: I think they’re now called Terroc 330s), but I must have left them somewhere because I’ve not seen them for at least 4 years. A phonecall to Inov8 yesterday, to take advice on the relative merits of Roclites and Terrocs in the ‘arch support’ department, suggested that the Terrocs are better equipped to pamper my ageing feet, and since that’s what I was hoping to hear I decided to buy a pair.

Sadly, it’s not possible for me find anywhere closer than Kendal where I can try on both the 6.5 and the 7. Okay: I could have gone to Sweatshop in Chorley, but they’ve only got them in the prissy light blue, and I don’t think I could live with myself in that colour of shoe. Give me the Stone/Sage over the pastel any day.

7. Inov8 Recolite 190s. In the course of looking up the Terrocs I spotted these very lightweight sandal-y things from Inov8. I love my Crocs but they’re too clunky and uncompressible to squeeze into my Exos, and I prefer, if possible, not to hang things off the back. These Recolites are about half the weight (i.e. 190g), though, and–as far as I can tell from much online drooling, and the cross-examination of various online retailers–they’re much more squishable than Crocs. When I drive up to Kendal to try the Terrocs tomorrow I’m going to try these as well. I’m sure they’re a really good investment. Definitely. Heh…

8. Inov8 Debris Gaiter. I’ve been meaning to get either these, or something like them, for a couple of years now, but haven’t yet got round to it. The plan is to keep all those nasty little bits of bracken, and pine needles, and similarly sharp bits of the landscape, out of my shoes and on the ground where they belong. If anyone knows of a much better system then please let me know–I realise there are several out there at the moment–but these seem to be considerably less expensive than some (about £10), and I’m assuming that since they’re made by Inov8 they’ll fit well onto my Terrocs.

9. Smartwool Liner Gloves. I generally use Buffalo mits, and carry a v. warm pair of padded gloves for foul conditions. Much as I love my Buffalos, though, there’s no getting round the fact that they’re a bit depressing when sodden wet. I’ve got waterproof over-mits, but I don’t always feel like fishing around for them in my pack if it begins to rain heavily. The padded gloves are blissfully comfy when I first put them on, but they’re not spacious enough for a liner and the fingers tend to try to turn inside out when I take them off, if my hands were wet in the first place. So, I’m thinking of using Smartwool liners as a basic glove (they’re quite thick, as liners go), and supplementing them with something else. I’m not yet sure what. Ideas welcome. Gloves are a bit of a pain for me, since (i) I tend to get very cold, painful hands quite quickly, and so need to be sure that I can keep them warm, and (ii) mes crubeens are quite small, and many ‘small’ gloves are too large for them. That may be the case with the Smartwools, but I’m hoping not.

10. Kahtoola Microspikes. I’d definitely like a pair of these, and reckon that they could turn out to be very useful in the Cairngorms if the snow persists into May. I must get round to ordering some this weekend.

11. Satmap Active 10 GPS. There’s no excuse for this: I simply love gadgets, and would absolutely love to have one. They’re so extremely expensive, though, that I almost certainly will be going without, for this year at least. I did try using my phone as a GPS in the Lakes last October but for me it didn’t seem to work very well. There’s the major battery issue, and I don’t like having to use a touch-screen device inside a plastic bag, and I was worried about dropping it etc etc. Basically it was such a faff that I don’t even intend to take that phone on the Challenge–I’m taking an old, straightforward light one instead, and if I need a GPS I’ll have my trust Garmin Geko to fall back upon. Still… the Satmap GPSs are truly lovely…

12. Fujifilm Finepix S1600. This one is John Jocys’s fault! He showed me his S1500, and I really liked the shape and feel of it. They seem to fall into the category of ‘bridge’ cameras, which are something in between the DSLRs and the compacts. There’s actually quite a range of them: S1500, S1600, S1800, S2000HD and S2500HD to name but a few, and they seem to to up in price from just under £100 to about £300 or so. I don’t need a new camera–I’ve got a Canon DSLR and 3 (!!!) compacts (though one is currently out on loan, and I keep trying to give one of the others to my sister). I’d like one, though, because (as mentioned above) I love gadgets, and each time I see a sexy new camera I imagine that by some sort of osmotic process the ability to take really good pictures will somehow instill itself in me by the simple act of purchasing it. Doh…

So! This is the kit I’ve been contemplating over the course of the last few days. I think I’ll definitely get the microspikes and the debris gaiters, and just see how I get on with the rest. Prolly the Terrocs too.

Any comments/suggestions/whatever from anyone re: any of these things, or re: anything else I’ve forgotten to consider buying, will be most welcome, as always :)

Learning to use Quo Mapping on my phone

13 October, 2009


I installed the programme this morning, and now I’m learning how to use it on the mobile.

I made an immediate cockup, I think, by misreading a code that I needed in order to transfer my map of the Lakes across, and now the map won’t load on the mobile. I’ll find a way to uninstall it, though, and do it again properly.

I’ve transferred a map of where I live, though, and it seems to be working! Even though I’m sitting inside at the computer, the mobile has found me the map and is monitoring my position. I am a green dot. I had no idea! *g*

The little programme seems brilliant. One of the things I’ve rarely used a GPS for, but would love to be able to do, is to set a waypoint representing where I need to be and then use the GPS to walk to it. I think I’ve only used that once with my little Garmin, when I was walking in the dark across a very foggy moor and couldn’t see the path. In desperation I worked out the GR of the junction of the path and the road, told the GPS to take me there and basically followed the arrow (naturally avoiding cliffs and other dangerous things along the way. I mention this for those GPS sceptics who believe that all GPS users will blindly follow a straight line on the ground and drop to their deaths from the nearest cliff *g*). It worked perfectly, and here I still am to tell the tale!

It’s much easier with a little map, though, because I don’t have to faff around taking a GR off the map (easy to do accurately when warm and safe: easy to mess up when cold, lost, stressed and alone in the hills) and transferring it manually to the GPS: I can simply tap the place I want to go to with the stylus in order to create a waypoint, and then walk to it. For a not-very-good navigator like me, that’s a major asset to have in reserve for those rare occasions when I need it. Hurrah for GPS and digital mapping technology! ;)

Finally getting somewhere with the blogging/phone/GPS issue!

9 October, 2009

Wow, this stuff is complicated!

Anyway… I’m currently with Vodafone, paying £10pm for 100 minutes and 500 texts. Turns out that if I pay £15pm I can have unlimited (well, 500MB) internet access too, so that’s what I’ve decided to do. I’m going to buy a phone separately.

The question now is: what phone? I’m very keen on the Blackberry Curve, but I’m also very tempted to just go for the HTC Touch Pro (or Touch Pro 2) which comes with a good keyboard *and* will allow me to use my existing Quo mapping, buy a couple of spare batteries and see how I get on. Over on the Quo forum the Glofiish X800 was recommended for GPS use, so that’s another possibility.

Ultimately I just can’t bring myself to buy digital mapping yet again, especially since I’ve only just got the Quo GB 1:50k and the Lakes and Dales at 1:25k. Viewranger looks very good, and if I hadn’t bought Quo I might have gone for that and bought a Nokia, but I just… can’t quite bring myself to do it! *g*

So now it’s just a matter of getting the phone.

Incidentally, I’ve just had an incredibly helpful telephone conversation with a bloke at Vodafone! He patiently answerered all my questions and even explained about the Blackberry ‘push email’ add-on (I hadn’t understood what it meant before, and I now realise I wouldn’t need it if I were to get a Blackberry). He checked my existing useage (I hadn’t previously known how to do it) and established that I’m doing fine on my 100 minutes/500 texts package, and as a result he’s saved me quite a lot of money as I’d prolly have gone for one of the £30 or £35pm deals otherwise, that go on for 2 years and come with a ‘free’ phone. (I might still have done that if they still had the HTC Touch Pro available, but they don’t.) Anyway, most of my previous telephone conversations with Vodafone, Orange and O2 have been painful, so it was a real joy to come across somebody so helpful and patient. Thank you, Alistair :)


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