Blackberry 8830 versus iPhone (and most other smartphones)

My company gave me a Blackberry 8830 (thank you!).  Despite my pleas, my company is Blackberry only.  However, I thought that since the Blackberry 8830 was a smartphone (and a popular one at that), I would be able to customize it to my heart’s content.  I was wrong.  

As a gadget loving tinkerer, I enjoy finding great new programs for my electronic  toys (i.e. phone and computer).  By great, I almost always mean easy to use, useful, and, most important, free.  Sadly for all the developers out there, I have found almost no reason to purchase most pieces of software.  A legal, free alternative is usually viable and available.  If there is no alternative, I pay but it is rare that I actually need said software enough to buy it.  I just do without.  

Back to the berry — I started finding great programs for my phone.  Many seemed useful and fun.  Of course, the options for the Blackberry 8830 are not as easily found or as good as those for the iPhone.  Despite this fact, I was able to find many things that interested me.  I downloaded them.

I quickly ran into a problem that many Blackberry owners have found — lack of memory = messed up Blackberry.  I soon ran out of memory.  Suddenly, most of my messages, past call history, and other important items were deleted.  My berry took forever to open up programs.  I did not get it.  I added a memory card.  At least in the 8830, memory cards do not actually help in the memory department unless you only want to store photos or music.  All programs are stored on the internal memory.  

What did this mean?  Simple — my smartphone is a lot less smart than the competitors (i.e. iphone).   Besides the normal bberry programs, I have Gmail, Google Maps, Viigo, Beyond411, Wall Street Journal program, and an icon for the New York Times and WashingtonPost.  Anything more and my memory would run out.  

I can somewhat forgive RIM for shipping my phone with such a minimal amount of memory.  However, it is unforgivable on the newer Berrys (such as the Bold and new Curve).  On the new phones, memory cards can store programs but this is still ridiculous.  Memory is very cheap.  For the same price as an 8GB iPhone, you can purchase a Bold.  From a memory and program option perspective, the choice is clear (iPhone).  Obviously, some people love BlackBerrys but if you want programs that make your phone truly smart – an iPhone or any phone with real internal memory is the winner.

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Firefox vs. Safari – processor use and overheating computer

Fan noise irritates me.  When I am only running essential programs, there is no reason for me to hear my fan.

What constitutes an essential program: a web browser.  

On my Mac, I have two major options: 1. Firefox, 2. Safari.  Due to all of the extensions and add-ons, I prefer Firefox.  

However, after months of attempting to ignore the fact, I came to the conclusion that Firefox is main reason for my “overheating” computer.  Since a web browser is an essential program, I did a simple test.

I turned on Firefox and Safari.  I opened the exact same web pages on both (3 pages/tabs per browser).  I only had one add-on running (1Password). Using iStat pro, I was able to watch which processes were using what percentage of my processor (lots of p’s in that sentence, phew).  

Firefox consistently used 5-20% more processor power than Safari.  My fans were running ~1000rpm faster with Firefox.    

I still do not like Safari but I prefer a quiet computer over Firefox.  The choice is simple — Safari is my web browser of choice from now on.

As a side note, here are some details about my web use: normal pages that are open: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Google Reader, Pandora.  Some of these might not play nice with one or the other web browser although it is more likely they would not work well with Safari rather than Firefox since FF has a larger user base.  

I also have 4GB of Ram, so that is not the problem.