Spent the entire weekend moving into our new digs in London. I even took Friday off in order to supervise the movers that had the tedious job of moving all of my 300 square feet worth of crap out of storage and up the huge flights of stairs to the new flat.

I had promised to give them a little thanks – so if you are moving in London and need a good company that works hard and has a great price – try using them! Call Graham at Big Van or look at their site www.bigvan.co.uk.

So Friday went by in a flash of cardboard boxes and running around like crazy people. Arlie had to move out of her flat as well which meant that we had two sets of movers going at once. I will say that it is much nicer than the days when we didn’t have any money and had to do all the moving ourselves (that sucks!).

Saturday was pretty much the same crap. It was great to get up and go out onto our terrace and wander down to Starbucks (yes, I went to Starbucks) to get a coffee. Then it was strictly DIY day. We have a great set of hardware stores at the end of our street which I ended up going into 3 times during the morning and making friends with all the guys. They even gave me a caulking gun for free!

I managed to be a super Miss Fix-it on Saturday. I put up a fence on the terrace to keep Roley from jumping onto the pub’s roof which looks pretty good considering the fact that it is made of chicken wire and fastened with electrical twist-ties. After that I put together the new patio heater (an essential of London summer evenings).

I actually really enjoyed myself doing all these little house tasks. I have a few more projects planned such as planting a mini-terrace garden for us to enjoy during the summer months.

After all of this, Arlie and I ran out to Homebase to find a BBQ so that we could have a nice little terrace BBQ on Sunday with the boys. We found a great little one for £50.

Sunday was super rainy and the boys were coming over for a Sunday roast/BBQ. So much for a sunny day on the terrace…

We persisted despite the rain and got our BBQ on. Quite funny actually. Everyone on the passing busses were laughing at us standing out there with the grill going. But the food was good and the company was great. We all enjoyed a nice dinner in our new eat-in kitchen. How fantastic to be able to sit 5 people in the kitchen and still have room!

Post dinner was a little bit of port and trivial pursuit (of which we all sucked at). Which brings me to one question… Why does everyone call Trivial Pursuit Genius edition…instead of Genus edition?

Now I’m in Tallinn for the rest of the week for work. Back on Thursday night and then off to Ireland on Friday to enjoy a weekend with Fiona Garvey and Tim and the entire Garvey clan for Easter Sunday. Should be super fun!

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FROM BOB’S BLOG – 2devons.com

Now that I am getting closer, but not too close, I hope, I have a few questions:

❓ Since heaven was built a few thousand years ago when they didn’t have indoor plumbing or heated toilets or TiVo or iPods, what are the accommodations like now? Have they been upgraded?

❓ If they have been upgraded, were there classes for all the folks who died not knowing what a toilet or shower is?

❓ What about toilet paper? Is there any, or do you still use leaves and grass? Or Sears, Roebuck catalogs?

❓ What about those of us who only speak English? Are there classes that we can take to learn the language (whatever it is), or are there translators?

❓ Do the dearly departed, or whatever they are called, use deodorant, or even bathe? I know this is a problem, because when Christianity became the prominent European religion, people quit bathing until about 100 years ago. Which means you have a lot of smelly people up there, and I don’t want to hang around with stinky people.

❓ Is it legal to swap DVD’s and mp3’s? There are no copyrights in heaven are there? Will iPods be provided free of charge? How long do the batteries last? Can I pick my own music, or do I have to listen to hymns all day?

❓ Do you have a library? Or a good bookstore? What about audible books?

❓ Can I bring my dog? How about my cat? Will all my pets be there? What about the goat? Is he still pissed?

❓ Do I have to live in a dorm, or will I have my own apartment, or, better yet, my own house with a pool?

❓ How will i get around? I won’t have to walk, will I? I assume gas is free, or at least heaven sponsored, and that the price is reasonable. Is that correct? Do I have my choice of vehicles? Or, can I fly anywhere I want to go?

❓ Oh, yeah, can I chose my friends? I don’t like the creepy born agains here, so I’m sure I won’t like them any better there.

❓ Are the neighborhoods integrated? Do I have to mow my own lawn? Can I hire a gardener?

❓ Which brings up the question of money; how do I get some? Will I have my choice of jobs that I am not qualified to do, but since it’s heaven, I can do anyway?

❓ Is Jim Morrison there? How about Jimi Hendrix, and Janus Joplin? Do they have a band? Or, a bar? How much are the drinks? Do you serve Mojito’s?

❓ Is Leonard Cohen correct? Was Jesus really a sailor when he walked on the water? Did he wear short pants and a sailor hat? Any photos available?

👿 I assume that Hell is pretty much as it’s always been, so I guess I don’t have any questions right now.

❓ OK, maybe one. Is there a thermostat?

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The i-mate Kjam arrived yesterday thanks to a quick order from Expansys (which turns out to be some sort of contractor for Carphone Warehouse). The ordering process was pretty easy and all I had to do was send some address and identification verification (and sign away my first born child) for a Vodafone UK contract.

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kjam

I excitedly dug into the box and started configuring away. Then I proceeded to spend the evening tinkering which drove me into about 1 am in my bed under the covers with the lights off still sending remote chats and geeking out. Upon 6 am wakeup I immediately continued onward. A bit like a child at Christmas? Yes, I suppose so.

Let’s see what’s exciting with this KJam anyways…

Looks
A little bit bulky, but compared to the larger Blackberry and my old Nokia G3 phone it isn’t that bad. The slideout keyboard is, in one simple word, DOPE. The screen is bright and clear. Not too many buttons (but I am having a hard time trying to figure out what the buttons actually do).

Operating System – Windows Mobile 5.0
Operating system is typical Windows. A bit annoying that the start button is on the top left (instead of the bottom left), but I’ll live. The other weirdness is that applications stay open even when you click on the close X. I find this strange – they just minimise and you have to go into System > Settings > Memory and close them manually. Fortunately I found a hack for this and am currently testing it out.

Applications
Came installed with all typical Microsoft garbage. Internet explorer, Outlook, Calendar, etc… good thing is that it easily connected and synced with my Outlook. Now all my nifty contacts are in there complete with the photos that I had attached previously in Outlook (adds for a bit of excitement).

It also came pre-installed with Skype 1.something. I find this weird because on the Skype website, we are told that minimum system requirements are 400 mhz and the Kjam is a mere 200 mhz. I did some hacking and uninstalled this early version of Skype and go 2.0 on. Chat works fine, but actual calling leaves something to be desired. Also the chat doesn’t support multi-chat quite yet, so my contacts get a popup telling them this (which I find a bit intrusive of my privacy because then people know I am on a device instead of in front of the laptop). The contacts synced really well considering I have about 300 + SkypeOut contacts. This did make it a bit difficult to navigate through. A work in progress, but seems to be going in the right direction.

Phone
Thusfar I have only made 1 phone call on the new phone. I’ve been treating it more like a PDA than a phone. The call was to Vodafone and it felt a little clunky holding this brick up to my ear. The dialling was also strange on the touchscreen and took some time. I think that the best solution for this is to get a Bluetooth headset and set up voice tags or speed dialling.

I also tried to put the phone on speakerphone, but the sound was really weak. Not sure if I was adjusting everything properly, but for now it wasn’t very great.

Add-ons
I have been downloading like a crazy person this evening and installing every trial application known to the Pocket PC world. This is one cool thing… most of the Pocket PC websites offer 15-30 day trials of almost all the software. Gotta love a full featured try before you buy.

So what have I installed?

  • SPB Pocket Plus – this is an app that hacks that annoying little bugs in the OS such as the close program vs minimise. It also lets you configure your Today screen with cool stuff.
  • SPB GPRS Monitor – I added this because I don’t trust those bastads at Vodafone not to charge me my entire life for an accidental over connection of GPRS. A must have. I phoned Vodafone today and was told there are no gprs upgrade plans, you simply pay £2.35 a MB. WTF? I have since more or less tried to disconnect the gprs wherever it might attempt an automatic connection.
  • Agile Messenger – this sweet little app is like the Trillian of the Windows Mobile world. I can connect to AOL, ICQ, Messenger and Yahoo IM programs. Only things that are missing from that list are Skype chat and Gtalk. Seems to work pretty good.
  • Opera browser – I needed to have an alternative to IE. Opera seems to be working pretty good and the bonus is that it has tabbed browsing. Cool!
  • Zagat guide – installed NYC, London, Paris and European restaurant guides. Now I will always have those numbers handy.
  • Wifi companion – to check those wifi connections. The default wifi manager seems a bit weak so I’m going to try this one out.

Overall impressions
Things are looking pretty good so far. New phones and devices usually have about a week or longer learning curve on them. This one is going smoothly and has enough cool functionality and applications to keep me busy tinkering. I’ll report back any major complaints.

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I’ve spent a long time deliberating my new purchase of a phone. I had gone off of upgrading my telephones after my last Nokia 6650 and Blackberry (aka Crackberry). I’ve been using this ghetto Nokia 3250 since moving to London because I haven’t gone down to unlock the sim cards on my other two phones. Plus I have very few friends here whom I actually call so it is OK.

But I started to get the itch again a few weeks ago. You know that feeling. The old familiar gadget envy when you see someone doing something cool with some geeky toy.

It all kicked off when I ran into King Britt and he was playing around with his Sidekick. Sidekicks are quite cool and I have been jealous of the fact that we don’t have them in Europe. Whenever you are in the States you see people playing non-stop with them. They are almost as bad as Crackberries, but they have some cool features that made me want one.

These features include: always on IM (something you don’t get working very easily on the Blackberry), camera (another thing the Blackberry doesn’t have), cute colours and covers and, finally, that flip around keyboard is pretty dope.

I went online and found out that T-mobile here in the UK in fact does have the Sidekick II available. It just appears that they do absolutely nothing to push it. I have never seen a Brit walking down the street with one. I think this is part due to the fact that T-mobile is trying to develop their own MDA and push this rather than pushing the Danger Sidekick. Or maybe there just isn’t a market here for the Sidekick.

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One interesting thing that I have noticed about the demographic of Sidekick users is that they tend to be a younger, more fun crowd. These are the people that don’t mind using AOL IM (who the hell uses that anymore?) and want really simple applications to retrieve their email. They don’t really care about connecting and syncing their PC – as the contact and email management is done through a T-mail account. This is interesting as Blackberry users tend to be tie-wearing, business travellers or sophisticated soccer moms that probably wouldn’t benefit much from IM chats or cameras.

I ordered a Sidekick. Then I got antsy about it. It didn’t feel quite right. I felt that maybe I needed more control over my phone. I want to sync with Outlook and do other things. So, I cancelled the order with Expansys and went back to the drawing board.

That is when I came across the latest Blackberry 8700. Oh, the all new Blackberry. I was a little hesitant after hearing all these rumours about the RIM lawsuit, but turns out that that has been settled. So what is great about the Blackberry and why would I even bother upgrading since I already have the small 7100 series which I had a brief love affair with.

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blackberry 8700

My love affair with my Blackberry was short, but passionate. It is a great way to get email. I used it constantly to fool the boss into thinking I was in the office. But what I didn’t really like was the fact that the phone was crap on it. I never heard the thing ringing and missed every single call that came in. Plus the internet browsing was a joke and there was no camera. I ended up trading it in for my Nokia 6650 because I was obsessed at the time with the sunshine of Barcelona and capturing as many photos as humanly possible of drinking sessions on Sunday afternoons.

The problems that I had with my Blackberry might have been solved with the 8700. The internet browsing is supposed to be much improved, plus I can install IM software on it and annoy everyone all the time.

I ordered the Blackberry 8700 off of Expansys. Then I got antsy again. Crap! I really want to be able to get Skype chats on my phone and Skype only supports Pocket PC OS. Neither the Sidekick or the Blackberry support Skype.

Then I thought about it a little more. What do I really want from my new gadget phone?

Here is my list:

  • Good contact management that I can sync with Outlook
  • Push email for business and personal accounts
  • Internet browsing that is halfway decent
  • IM – especially Skype since most of my contacts are on Skype
  • Wifi – because 3G is too bloody expensive
  • Ability to add applications – such as SSH
  • Easy to use keyboard

    Things that I dont’ really care that much about:

  • Camera – nice to have, but I don’t really care about the quality
  • Ringtones
  • Size of the phone – I have a big handbag
  • Skype phone calls – I don’t mind not calling through wifi – I only want IM

    Back to the drawing board again. Yes, at this point you are thinking that I am completely undecisive and probably really pissing off the people at Expansys because I keep ordering and cancelling.

    That is when I came across the I-Mate KJAM. It has all the features that I was looking for and it is quite slick with a keyboard that looks a little reminicent of the Sidekick.

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    image kjam

    And I ordered it. And I haven’t cancelled it. It will be delivered Monday. Wish me luck…

    Read the spec of the Imate KJAM

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    Yes, I love Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse. I admit it. This is some classic cult television programming that is almost as entertaining as the Muppets.

    In fact, I am sitting here right now watchin Big Top Pee-wee and I noticed something weird.

    Benicio del Toro is playing Duke the Dog Faced Boy. How awesome is that?

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    Then I remembered that Cowboy Curtis was played by Lawrence Fishburne.

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    I vote that we bring Paul Reubens back.

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    I am addicted to reading Perez Hilton celebrity crap. Yes, I realise that I posted in a recent message that I won’t read Metro magazine on the tube for the very reason that it is crap. But for some reason, I have to read Perez. I’ve gotten myself down to one time a week. But this is pretty pointless as I read the entire week’s posts that I missed. And I love the bitchiness of it all.

    Perez Hilton is my crack.

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    So I ran into Perez live and in person at The Fifth in Miami where Paris Hilton was doing some press crap. Everyone was swarming Paris while I was most impressed with Perez and I swarmed him. I think I actually offended him by telling him that his column was shit, but I couldn’t stop myself from reading it. Oh, lifes little guilty pleasures…

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    The trip got off to a not so great beginning.

    Issue #1: Roley was booked into a cattery in Essex. The cattery was not answering my phone calls and emails about delivering the little booger so I had to switch at the last minute. I ended up driving the dorko across London, draped in his fetish white latex with pink lining cape and dropping him off at a cattery. This wouldn’t be so bad except I nearly cried when I got there. The cat runs were outside and it is freezing in London. I had a long chat with the lady who was caring for him and decided that he would be ok after we put in a blanket and a heating pad and closed off his little cubby hole (he also has a place to run around that is quite spacious). He seemed happy enough – despite the other cats making fun of his super gay cape…

    Issue #2: I was due to depart on Wednesday morning. We (Ornella and I) had rented a cute little flat in Miami from a company called Miami Lodge (www.miamilodge.com). I had paid them the deposit on my card and the other half over a month ago through a wire transfer from my account in London. I had been emailing them for the past several days, yet had heard nothing back. I started to get antsy, so I phoned them. I reached the lady and she informed me that they hadn’t received anything and I would have to pay them yet again until they got the wire transfer. Obviously I was not pleased. This resulted in several flaming bile emails threatening to track down the wire transfer and shove it up someones ass.

    I decided to let it go and let God (j/k always wanted to say something super mid-western like that). I decided to tap into my super zen like nature and go to sleep. I packed and crawled into bed still looking forward to my holiday.

    Issue #3: I wake up early – at 6 AM. Sorta like when you were a kid and couldn’t sleep the night before you got to go to Disneyland for the first time. Then I picked up my phone to check the time (because I don’t have an alarm clock) and saw that I had a missed call and a message. Hmm…

    Checked aforementioned message. Not a nice one.

    Stephanie, it’s Ornella. They won’t let me on the fucking flight. I’m not coming to Miami. Call me back.

    Yes, that is correct. Ornella couldn’t get on her flight. Turns out that her passport was not a machine readable passport and Alitalia refused to let her board. This is all despite the fact that several weeks before she had gone to a passport agency and they had renewed her lame passport for another 5 years.

    So this wasn’t looking very good. My cat is freezing, the flat isn’t paid for and they are trying to blackmail me for more money, and my travelling companion / Miami partner in crime can’t get on the flight. SHIT!!!

    I was beginning to wonder whether I should bother going at this point. What other surprises would be in store for me next? Would I get stuck in traffic and miss the flight? Would the plane crash? Would I get stuck in an overflowing toilet? Or even worse – would the in-flight entertainment NOT WORK?

    Stay tuned to find out what happened next…

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    wednesday
    Arrived after a long flight. Met up with D for some dinner at the lovely 11th street Diner (Jeff Peacock’s chicken wings addiction homespot). Chowed down on some super greasy potato skins and drank root beer (mmn, I miss root beer in Europe). Then headed down to the 16th anniversary of Magic Sessions (sometimes renamed Tragic Sessions). Hung out for a bit in the vip. Went home at about 3.30 exhausted.

    thursday
    Went down to the National to hang out poolside by blagging my way onto a chair. Sat down and started speaking to my neighbor, a guy named Jackson. I inquired whether or not Jackson thought it would rain and his response?

    God doesn’t let it rain on me

    Now this was one of the most ridiculous things that I have heard in a long time. But I took his word and the cabana boy’s word who told me there was only 30% chance of rain.

    Two minutes later I hear someone yell…

    Why God?

    Yes, it started pouring down buckets and buckets of rain. Jackson and I ran off into a cabana where we ended up being stranded for an hour or so. Thankfully, my new found friend kept me company and even ordered up some beverages from the bar via his mobile. Not too bad.

    Finally the rain subsided long enough for me to run inside and meet Dimitri. We went on a umbrella purchasing mission and then down to some Peruvian food at some cheap diner. I had the bistec con taku taku which was surprisingly good.

    Went home to take a quick nap and get ready for the evening. Albi and Philippe were coming to town so went down to the Ritz Carlton to meet up with them. Then we went for a cocktail and onwards to the Defected party at Nikki Beach. Hung out with the boys, saw a few folks, didn’t drink much until I somehow coaxed Philippe into strawberries and champagne.

    friday
    sushi, BBE party

    saturday
    italian food, mansion, red room

    sunday
    Poolside ritz. Paris hilton party

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