Alltel to Battle the iPhone Buzz with ‘CellTop’

Today Alltel announced a new product called CellTop:

“An exclusive, patent-pending technology that offers customers an easier way to access, manage and organize a wide range of information already available on their Alltel Wireless phones. Celltop gives customers more control over their wireless experience through a unique and fully-customizable technology similar to the desktop on a personal computer”

Sounds like a great concept, and I’m all for ANYTHING that helps making a phone easier to navigate, but patent-pending?  This sounds an awful lot like Handmark products that have been around for years.  But it is nice to see carriers actually getting involved in the UX (user experience) field, and augmenting their products (sure beats crippling them, as some carries have chosen to do).

CellTop runs on the Qualcomm Brew platform, so it should be portable across multiple phones (and potentially carriers).  I wonder if any of the big guys will take notice of what a regional player like Alltel is up to?

More info and screenshots on CellTop can be found at

Remote Desktop Client Updated for Vista Use – Fast

Microsoft has released an update for the Remote Desktop Clientfor Windows XP SP2 and 2003 Server systems.  This update has several enhancements, including security, visual improvements, and resource redirection.

The most beneficial features for me are the ability to view my remote Vista machine at a high resolution (including multi-monitor) at 32bit color, and the speed improvements.  Using this new client, I was able to connect to my Vista desktop from my XP tablet over WiFi, and the experience was almost identical to being local on the Vista machine.  Much snappier and more usable than the default XP client.

I have not tried it over WAN yet, but I suspect the UX will be great there as well.

So, if you spend a lot of  any time using remote desktop connections to a Vista box, make sure to download this free update.

Vista, EVDO, and the Toshiba M400 Tablet PC

I just installed Vista on a shiny new Toshiba M400 Tablet straight out of the box (I booted to XP once just to make sure the hardware was ok).  One of the items I have not seen addressed, and that I was concerned about was whether or not the internal Verizon WWAN EVDO card on the M400-S4032 would work under Vista.

I’m happy to report that using the XP driver for the Novatel Card, available from Toshiba here works just fine.  I have not used EVDO much yet (just 5 minutes to verify it works), but Vista does recognize the device using this driver, and makes a connection just fine.  One less Vista worry 🙂


[Update 9/24/06] – A few additional items, and answers to questions:

  • Make sure to activate the EVDO card under XP, and get it running there first
  • If you install Vista to a bare drive (not an XP upgrade) you will want to install a few utilities :
    • Toshiba 3G Power Manager, available on Restore DVD #4 at \comps2\Toshiba 3G RF Power Control Utility\Manual.  Just run the self extracting zip. (Note, if you have CDs instead of DVDs, I do not know what CD# they are on, but I would guess it is on one of the last ones in the set)
    • Latest Verizon Wireless Dialer App, available here
  • I’ve had some on and off issues using the VZW dialer app, but you can create a dial up connectoid (are they still called that in Vista?)  in the following format:
    • Phone #777
    • User: (where YourPhoneNumber is your 10 digit phone number, assigned to your card) Note: some people may need to use instead of
    • Pass: vzw
    • If you google #777 and vzw, you’ll get a lot more information about setting this up.


Other Vista Resources for the Toshiba M400:

Wireless Airports, The Complete List

I had the pleasure of a brief layover in the Phoenix Sky Harbor (PHX) on my way home from Seattle / Redmond (more on that trip soon) yesterday.  While I was standing in the SouthWest airlines cattle callboarding line,  I brought my X41 Tablet PC out of hibernate mode and started fumbling around for my EVDO card.  While I was doing this XP found some local access points, and I decided to take a look.

I fully expected to see the normal airport fare – a paid access point from TMobile, AT&T or Boingo, a few locked networks for who knows what, some security enabled airline clubs, and of course several honeypots claiming free access – what they will really do is sniff your traffic, and steal your identity. (NOTE: NEVER connect to a peer to peer network if you are not 100% sure what it is.  I constantly see these now in airports, hotels, and other public places – very dangerous).

I was surprised to see an open network named Sky-Harbor (the name of the airport), so I decided to connect.  Instead of being brought to a “Please enter Credit Card’ page, I was brought straight to my home page!  Perfect!  I was able to sync with Exchange, grab my RSS feeds, and be on my way before the boarding line even moved.  I travel A LOT, and this was only the second time I’ve bumped into a free WiFi point sponsored by the airport itself.  All other things being equal, I will now make sure to fly through Phoenix when I have the opportunity instead of another connection airport with $12.95 WiFi.

I did a quick search this morning, and found a great list on that covers 164 US airports and their WiFi availability.  This page is a must bookmark for all Tablet (and I guess laptop too 🙂 ) travelers who like staying connected.

Of the top 20 US airports, only 5 have free access (Las Vegas, Phoenix, Orlando,Philadelphia, JFK – Jet Blue Terminal).  But quite a few of the smaller airports do have free access.  Way to go small airports, maybe the larger ones will get a clue soon!

Portable WiFi – You can take it with you

Just getting settled in at the vacation house, and got the Kyocera KR-1mobile router hooked up and running (basically plugging it into an AC outlet – <1 Minute) .  If you are not familiar with the KR-1, it is very similar to a standard WiFi router but instead of connecting it into a broadband connection (Cable modem or DSL), it gets it’s Internet connectivity through an EVDO cellular card – and it is AWESOME!

Even if I am the only one using the Internet connection and don’t need to share the WiFi with other users, I prefer using the KR-1 over just plugging the EVDO card directly into my X41’s PC Card slot.


  • Speed – even though it doesn’t make sense, the EVDO connection is faster (I’ve tested with online bandwidth tools) in the KR1 than it is directly plugged into a PC.
  • Location,Location, Location – Unfortunately EVDO has all the same nuisances of using a cellular phone – it works great in some parts of the house / office / hotel room, and in other areas it has little or no signal.  With the KR-1 I can place it in the strongest area (The web config utility actually shows signal bars), and then roam anywhere else in the area via WiFi and not have to rely on a cellular signal.
  • PC / Windows Issues – PC Cards are notorious for getting into bad states when the PC goes into a standby/sleep/hibernate mode.  EVDO cards are no different, and in many cases it requires a total reboot of the laptop or tablet PC to get the card working again.  5 minutes wasted.  The KR-1 removes this issue completely.
  • Reliability – The KR-1 reconnects on dropped signals automatically, no more pulling up the EVDO dialer app to manually reconnect (and wait).  Very cool.

I’ve been using the KR-1 for several months now, and it is a definite two thumbs up!  I am fortunate enough to have both a Sprint & Verizon EVDO card, and so far I have always been able to get a great WiFi spot going with one of them and the KR-1 – Including a recent road trip.  It was just so cool and uber-geeky having a mobile hotspot inside the car!