Shift-Menu-Right Shoulder takes screenshots. Whee!
For those of you that were holding off on buying a Sidekick 3 until the Terminal Client was ported – I’m happy to report that v3.0 is now in the Catalog.
New features (as best I can tell – don’t shoot me if these were in 2.0!) include being able to change between sessions using the shoulder buttons, and ANSI color support.
Around the turn of the century, consumerism took an interesting turn: cultism became favorable. No longer was there just the mass market and a void, but small niche markets became common, sought after, marketed at. (No blog post along these lines would be complete without shouting “LONG TAIL!” at the top of the author’s lungs, and I will not break the trend.) I belong to a number of shopping cults: my memberships in [the cult of Apple](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/19415606/) and [the cult of Bemani](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/1573382/) are well documented.
Today, I realized that I had a third major cult membership: the cult of the Sidekick.
Don’t get me wrong – I was fully willing to admit my Sidekick addiction for the two and a half years I’ve owned one. It is nearly inseparable from my hand to the point where it often feels like a body part rather than a cell phone. It is difficult for me to survive without one: it manages all of my email, the majority of my IM conversations, serves as my primary syndicated feed reader, and acts as my notepad for random nuggets of information.
But this morning, I stood in line with what I would estimate as roughly 500 people on 41st and Madison, waiting patiently for our chance to purchase a Sidekick 3. Again: these were not giveaways, these were people waiting in line to *buy a cell phone*. Again: **cult**.
With that said: while there are a number of professional reviews available about the Sidekick 3, very few go into the technical aspects and random questions that tech wonks like myself have. This post is my best attempt to answer the questions I had before I got my hands on one. I hope you find this useful.
So, for those of you who are waiting for the Sidekick 3, here’s the official upgrade plan information from T-Mobile:
> As a valued T-Mobile customer, you get the exclusive opportunity to buy the new Sidekick 3 before it officially hits the streets!
> Already a T-Mobile Sidekick customer? Log in to upgrade online, or visit the Santa Monica Wilshire or NYC 307 Madison Avenue T-Mobile stores, beginning 6/28.
> Already a T-Mobile customer, but don’t use a Sidekick? Call Customer Care at 1-800-937-8997 or 611 from your handset to upgrade beginning 6/28.
>Not yet a T-Mobile customer? Sidekick 3 will be available for sale online and in T-Mobile stores on 7/10.
This information is via [sidekick.com](http://www.sidekick.com).
I think I may very well be waiting in line the morning of 6/28.
“[User concerns mount over possible BlackBerry shutdown](http://www.macworld.com/news/2006/01/25/blackberryusers/index.php)” – Macworld
“[Life without a Blackberry? Users shudder to think](http://today.reuters.com/business/newsarticle.aspx?type=ousiv&storyID=2006-01-24T224805Z_01_N24200605_RTRIDST_0_BUSINESSPRO-LIFE-BLACKBERRY-DC.XML)” – Reuters
“[Blackberry blackout threat leaves CEOs aghast](http://www.localnewsleader.com/brocktown/stories/index.php?action=fullnews&id=130484)” – Brocktown News
“Buy a goddamn Sidekick II already.” – Dan Dickinson
I think T-Mobile is having an identity crisis when trying to market the Sidekick. There’s three main market groups that the Sidekick appeals to – geeks, gossip girls, and hip-hoppers. Geeks get stuff like the SSH app and the new spreadsheet app. Gossip girls get the Juicy Couture Sidekick and the like. The hip hop fans get a lot of ringtones.
But sometimes the marketing gets way too ambitious.
Over the last few days, a port of the 1982 Sega arcade game [PENGO](http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?letter=P&game_id=8989) has appeared in the Sidekick App Catalog. The description is drop dead funny, and it reads as follows (boldface is mine):
> Fujin brings you PENGO; Sega Mobile’s sharp-dressed penguin. The arcade hit from 1982 returns from the deep freeze. This is the **most accurate penguin simulator** Sega has ever produced. Variable difficulty settings let you sling ice at your own pace. Pengo was leading the good life, **just cold chillin’** in his red tux. That is, until the Sno-bees appeared. These **haters** are **out to front** on Pengo’s **lavish lifestyle**, and **that just won’t fly with this bird**. Now Pengo’s got to **defend his crib** by squashing the Sno-bees with blocks of ice on each level. And then there’s another kind of ice on the board — the diamond blocks, which add some **serious bling-bling** to your score when lined up. And speaking of score, Pengo saves your top score, so you can **show your crew** just what you’re worth. For old-school gaming on your new-school Sidekick, go with the king — Pengo.
Wow, who knew Pengo was such a pimp? Also, the “most accurate penguin simulator” line cracks me up way too much.
PREVIOUSLY: Losing All Hope Is Freedom
They were covering Digital Life on NY1 this morning, showing off the new Juicy Couture Sidekicks. The on-the-scene guy made mention of that Pat *loves* his SideKick – then they cut to this split shot showing Pat holding up his Sidekick and asking what the big deal is about the Couture one. He even scoffed a bit when he found out it was merely pink and not any better.
I love this channel.
A few weeks ago, there were murmurs on the various Sidekick forums that there was a sizable update coming, in the form of hiptop OS 2.3.
Waiting for Sidekick updates is sort of like the lottery; after Danger finishes an update, T-Mobile has to approve it through their QA, and then it’s slowly seeded, randomly, to the userbase. Everyone doesn’t receive it at the same time because apparently that would blow out the servers – so one day, out of the blue, you just magically see you need to update your software and get to do some sort of joyous dance.
Today, in the middle of taking copious notes about a project, I got notification that my Sidekick was ready to update. I installed the update, and then another update immediately after it, and then took a few minutes to examine the new feature set.
I have to say, I’m tremendously happy. Here’s the new features I’ve personally found useful:
– Less publicized to the point of not being in the release notes for reasons I can’t understand: considerably better CSS support. My blog now actually renders in proper colors, as does Bloglines.
– There’s now Find functionality, which was also sorely needed. Has case matching and whole word switches.
– You can finally highlight a link and copy the link location, or directly email/SMS it, from within the browser. After having to click through links I can’t properly view just to IM them to people, this is a godsend.
– You can change document encoding. There aren’t a lot of options, but Unicode is there, so that’s a big plus regardless.
– A slight behavior tweak that helps a lot: previously, the browser would load the page straight through, loading images in order before loading any text below it. Now, image placeholders show up and the images load inline after the text shows up. This helps tremendously when pulling my RSS feeds.
## AIM Client
– Buddy icon support, both for your contacts (icons show up small when you select them in the list, and in the top right corner of the screen during conversations) and for you (you can pick any picture out of your Camera app).
– Timestamps in conversations, which were hugely needed, are now available.
– Idle times, away messages, and available messages are shown inline in the buddy list.
– There’s a setting to reconnect automatically.
– Chat buffers have grown from 4k to 10k.
– Links are clickable in an email, at long last.
– You can hold Shift to multi-select messages. After having found my email box flooded with errant page mails from our monitoring server, this will supplant me playing Track And Field with the delete key.
– You can now send text messages from the Call Log,
– Sadly, the Phone app has lost the nifty “icon shows if you’ve flipped open your Sidekick” behavior. Oh well.
– Text messages can be saved as Drafts. No more forcing to send or discard!
– You can have a list of prewritten messages, which are easily inserted into any new text message.
## Address Book
– You can now add screen names to address book entries. Of particular interest is that you can set it to any of the big five messaging types – AIM, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, and Yahoo. I can only hope this means there’ll be a Jabber client soon.
– The icon picker now is 3×3, which makes selecting one a little easier.
– There’s easier management for moving contacts to and from your SIM card.
– It’s now considerably easier to remove an existing phone or email entry from a user – you can just hit delete, rather than having to open it and tap the Delete button with the cursor.
Auto-saving of photos! No more having to remember to click another button to get them to store to my phone. **This was apparently there before, I just wasn’t aware of it.**
– In-app photo rotation. No more sideways uploads to Flickr.
– You can watch a slideshow on your phone, although I’m not particularly sure how useful this is.
– There’s now a little loading animation so you’re not just staring at black as you wait for the phone to power up.
– You can change the thumbnail size in the Gallery view.
– You can now assign an icon for each event. They feel a little like clip-art throwbacks, but it’s nice to be able to do some sort of categorization of events.
– You can now uninstall applications to preserve space in a supported manner, rather than deleting apps and hoping it remembers you bought them.
– The notification area at the top of the screen when something loads, or you get a new email or IM or what have you, is about twice as long, allowing you to actually read the thing at a glance.
– You can use an image from the camera as a lock screen image. Hurrah for customization of security screens.
– The fonts have been tweaked slightly for ease of legibility.
– The easter egg game, Snowbored, actually plays at a good framerate now.
– Network status now has a dedicated screen.
– There’s a help screen with some connection tips, useful for reference if your connection dies. The user’s manual has changed to a web page that has to load off dngr.net.
This isn’t a complete list; Danger has [an extensive list of their own](http://help.sidekick.dngr.com/en-us/#updatenotes). But I have to say, kudos to their engineers for adding so many useful features and new functionality as part of a regular OS release. It’s really impressive, and makes me feel like my Sidekick is reborn; like I want to use it even more than I already do.
(Not that this is possible, from what I’ve been told.)
> Tyler lies back and asks, “If Marilyn Monroe was alive right now, what would she be doing?”
> I say, goodnight.
> The headliner hangs down in shreds from the ceiling, and Tyler says, “Clawing at the lid of her coffin.”
People who have been around me for longer than thirty minutes know I’m very prone to the nervous tic of checking my [Sidekick](http://hiptop.com/). Combining all the functionality I need in a mobile device, it’s practically fused to my fingers anymore. As a mobile platform, it gets a fair amount of crap from alpha geeks for not being “open” and allowing anyone to put programs on it, but there is a system to download ringtones, applications, and games.
People who have been near my bookshelf and actually examined it know I’m a big fan of Chuck Palahniuk – perhaps as the only author I routinely pick up new titles for. Furthermore, I think Fight Club is David Fincher’s best work. It was the first DVD I ever purchased, and it remains one of my favorites to this day.
Gamers will recall the look of horror we shared when they heard Fight Club was being turned into a console game. [Universally panned](http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/fightclub) and [quickly budgetized](http://www.flickr.com/photos/remydwd/25553960/), it remains a black spot on the gaming release lists last year.
That look of terror is back, ladies and gentlemen, as I found “Fight Club” listed in my Sidekick 2 Catalog today. If transforming such a book/movie into a game wasn’t bad enough, this immediately hits three more crimes against humanity:
**One**, there is no preview. Most Sidekick applications come with a screenshot or two as previews, so you can maybe get some indication of what the game or application is like. Not here.
**Two**, the description of the game. I quote all of this verbatim. Short description:
> Punch and kick your way to the top of Fight Club in this thrilling adaptation of the cult movie.
The long description:
> Fight Club accurately recreates the atmosphere of the cult 1999 movie with its amazing graphics and sounds, a wide variety of combat moves, destructible environments and a strong storyline. You are Jack, a man disgruntled with society and suffering from insomnia & schizophrenia. Punch and kick your way to the top of Fight Club as you attempt to beat Tyler Durden, and stop the pending Mayhem. With its simple 1 button control and gradual introduction of behaviours, Fight Club is easy to pick up!
Nothing in this description is accurate (main character wasn’t named), consistent (wide variety of combat moves with simple controls?), or even terribly appealing as a game. One button controls? What is this, Kirby’s Air Ride?
**Three**, after not being able to see the game before buying it, and being given what may be the worst textual description in history, they want to charge you the most they can for a Sidekick game – $5.99.
Look, if you’re in the mobile content industry, do us all a favor. Stop shoveling crap at us. I know it’s a captive audience and all, but this is insulting to the intelligence of your customer base.