It's phone upgrade time

It's been a very cell phone kind of evening. First, research for our pending upgrade, then problems with BitPIM.

I'll go in reverse order and start with my BitPIM problem. As you may already know, I have problems using BitPIM due to a buggy USB/serial driver. Basically, every time I disconnect the cell phone from my PC, the driver for the data cable crashes and I have to reboot to use it again. Thus I don't tend to use it very often.

It seems that the upgrade to Edgy added another bug to the process. Previously, Ubuntu hadn't had BitPIM in the APT repositories, so I converted the official RPM with alien and used that. Well, apparently BitPIM 0.9.04 is now in the universe repository. The package version is 0.9.04.dfsg.1-1. The problem with this is that the package is totally broken.

And when I say "broken," I don't mean "doesn't work," I mean brings my system to its knees. Basically, this version of BitPIM leaks memory like a seive. In less than 30 seconds after attempting to pull data off my phone, Python had eaten up 85% of my system memory, causing the system to thrash so badly I couldn't even switch to a terminal to kill the process. How it managed to eat up that much memory, I have no idea.

The good news is that the fix was simple: install the "alienized" RPM of version 0.9.08 from the official BitPIM site. Now everything is back to normal.

Now, the whole reason I was pulling the data off my phone is because I'm planning to go to the Verizon Wireless office tomorrow and see about renewing our contract and getting some new phones. However, this time I decided to do my homework first.

After checking out what Verizon offers, it looks like it's down to a Motorola RAZR V3m or a Samsung SCH-a930. The RAZR looks nice, but the a930 seems a bit more utilitarian. I'll have to take a look at each of them before making my decision.

I was initially leaning toward the RAZR because I'd read it could play MP3s, but further research suggests that the model Verizon sells can only do WMA. Apparently the MP3 thing varies from carrier to carrier. I'll have to check with the salesman, but I don't hold out much hope (of the phone doing MP3s or of the salesman knowing anything).

What really irks me is that I'm 99% sure the only reason they disable MP3 support is to promote the use of their VCast service. That's the one where they charges you an obscene amount ($1.99/song) to download music and other content that I don't care about. As if it wasn't bad enough that they nickle and dime you to death with everything else, now they won't even let you use your own data on the phone.

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