May 032012
 

Since I’ve been using Windows Phone since it’s release, I’ve heard of something called “Local Scout” that a lot of American’s talk about, but yet it’s not on my Rogers Windows Phone. I’ve tried searching for the app, info, etc… only to find that it’s not available in Canada.

Here’s a neat little hack to enable “Local Scout” that I figured out:

1) Go to “Settings”, then “Region+Language”.

2) At the very bottom (and you only need to change this one setting), change “Browse & search language” to “English (United States).

3) Get out of settings, go to your home screen with your Tiles and hit the “Bing” button, you should now notice 4 buttons at the bottom, one of the new ones being “Local Scout”.

 

Have Fun!

And P.S. doing this also enables scanning bar codes and books. Interesting to scan a UPC code and find info on the product!

Apr 282012
 

Well, the other night I accidentally destroyed my Samsung Focus to the point of no return. I live by my phone, and I’d die without it so I had to replace it A.S.A.P.

As most of you regular readers already know, I’m a die hard Microsoft mobile enthusiast. I’ve been using their devices since before the iPhone even existed… And I’ve been more then happy with all their smartphone operating systems, especially the new Windows Phone 7.

Even though Windows Phone 7 isn’t that popular in Canada (I’m assuming this is because most of the providers don’t really try to sell them) I decided to call up the local Best Buy store to see if they had any new Nokia Lumia 900s in stock. To my surprise they did! They had two!

With less then 20 minutes till close I rushed to the store and picked one up. Got home, plugged it in and it was play time. Unfortunately Rogers Corporate customer care is closed at night so I couldn’t activate the new MicroSIM till the next morning. But that didn’t really matter considering I wanted to play with the phone, not make calls.

Comparing this to some of the 1st Gen phones (in my case the Samsung Focus):
1) I finally have a front facing camera! And it works great! I loaded up Skype, and it works beautifully (both over WiFi and LTE). 40% of the time I’ve been using my new phone I’ve been Skyping people haha. Video calling on Skype has high video quality, no lag (even over LTE), and just works SLICK!
2) Faster processor – the interface on WP7 has always been slick, however certain small things like the keyboard not keeping up with my typing, or application slow load times, or the delay going back and resuming an application from the background has bugged me. These issues don’t exist on the Lumia 900.
3) New phones (the Lumia 900) are bigger, and easier to type for people with big hands and figures like me!

This is somewhat unrelated and a side not, but previously my old Samsung Focus camera button didn’t work and there was also a defect in the touchscreen so i avoided typing, emails, and texting at all costs (i didn’t want to send it in since the devices my provider sends back are always usually in worst shape the the busted one you originally sent them from my experience). With my new Lumia 900, I can’t stop texting, e-mailling, and typing!

Let’s get back to the Nokia Lumia 900. Overall, the phone rocks. Its fast, designed nicely, and has all the features you could need and use. Nokia even has their own WP7 apps, which I had a chance to try and can actually see myself using them.

Now before I leave, I do want to mention I have observed two issues with this phone.
1) When the backlight is on low (either automatic or you manually set it) the screen gets a purple or brown tint to it. Its ugly, makes pictures look horrible, and the keyboard turns full purple. I don’t know what’s causing this but other people are reporting it so I hope its software and not hardware. If it’s software, they should easily be able to issues a software or firmware update.
2) The vibrate function on the phone rattles. Some people report it being certain things such as buttons, I’ve identified mine to being the camera button, and another thing internally which I can’t see. Its annoying, but it’s not a deal breaker.

I leave you with this: If the purple screen issue turns out to be software, I would recommend this phone to everyone and anyone! Its awesome! If it turns out the purple issue is hardware, I’d say hold off.

PS. This phone is so slick, I actually wrote this entire blog post from the WordPress app on my Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone.

 

UPDATE (April 29th, 2012): I reached out to a bunch of different twitter addresses for WindowsPhone, Nokia, etc… and I received a response back from NokiaHelps (@NokiaHelps on Twitter). They told me to take my phone back to the retailer. I went back today, and took the phone in. The people at Best Buy confirmed there was an issue and replaced the phone. Unfortunately on the new unit, once I got home and plugged it in, I got the purple screen right off the bat. So now I sit here, wondering if all Lumia 900s have this issue and if I should return it for a full refund and move away from Windows Phone (considering my provider has no other latest gen Windows Phones).

UPDATE (April 30th, 2012): I told NokiaHelps on twitter that I took the device back to the retailer as they suggested and got a new device which also had the same issue. They responded back and mentioned this issue is under investigation. Hopefully we can get this fixed. I would LOVE to keep this phone, it’s awesome!

UPDATE #2 (April 30th, 2012): I returned the second Lumia 900 to the Best Buy store where I purchased it and received a refund. I decided to go around the city and check every Best Buy and Futureshop to see if the phones they had may have had a later production date (The two phones I had were ” 13 / 2012 “, and I’m just assuming this is the production batch date).

Turns out that every Futureshop and every Best Buy received 2 units when the Lumia 900 launched. I checked every Futureshop and Best Buy in Calgary, Alberta (except 1 of each in the North end of the city) and all told me they haven’t sold any since launch, and I confirmed all boxes had the ” 13/ 2012″ on the sticker at the bottom of the box. Additionally Futureshop REFUSED to sell me the Lumia 900 stating “All new phones that Best Buy and Futureshop carry are only available by going on a contract term with the provider”. I mentioned that I purchased a phone on Friday and I purchased it outright from Best Buy, they told me “that doesn’t sound right” and after pushing they changed their story to: “When it comes to Best Buy, its the stores discretion, but Futureshop isn’t allowed to sell the phones outright”. I find this very hard to believe, and I’m surprised that they make it this hard to buy a phone…

Finally after 5 hours of going to all the Best Buy’s and Futureshop’s, I finally purchased another device. The new device DOES have the purple display issue. At this point I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

On one note though: I’m just absolutely shocked that in a city of more than 1,000,000 (1 million) people, that I’m the only person that has gone to a Best Buy or a Futureshop to buy a Nokia Lumia 900 (according to the information the sales people at the stores have provided me with).

UPDATE (May 1st, 2012): I noticed today with my phone manually set to medium, that the white background of the “Outlook” app is now starting to show a purple tint (it’s whitish/purplish). It’s somewhat hard to see, and you have to be looking at the phone directly. If you tilt the phone the purple-ness disappears.

Also, here’s something interesting… Turn your phone off, or put it to sleep: Go somewhere close to a light, and use your phone’s screen to reflect the light (as if you were looking through a mirror at a light. Notice how there is a purple haze around the light in the reflection on the phone. I’m almost positive this is hardware and it has something to do with a internal coating in the screen.

UPDATE (May 2nd, 2012): I e-mailed my corporate sales rep at Rogers on Monday and asked about this issue and if Rogers is aware of it. It is now Wednesday and I have not received a reply.

UPDATE (May 7th, 2012): No word back from my Corporate rep at Rogers (I’m not surprised…), it’s now been a week. I don’t think this is because they are aware of the issue and don’t know what to say, but rather this is just typical for Rogers (but I’ll get in to my problems with them in another blog post). On the bright side of things, Nokia mentioned today they are releasing a software update soon to resolve the purple hue/tint on the Lumia 900. Let’s hope they aren’t using a software fix to hide a hardware problem!

UPDATE (May 9th, 2012): A few days ago, Nokia finally mentioned they were going to release a software update to resolve the purple hue issues. Even before that was announced I had made the finaly decision to keep the phone just because of how awesome it is. I’ll keep this post up to date with info on how this turns out, but I’ll be posted a full review soon! Stay tuned!

Mar 112012
 

I was out for dinner the other night at a nice restaurant in downtown Calgary. While waiting for my tenderloin steak, I decided to pull out my phone and check my Twitter, Facebook, e-mail (you know, the usuals). I noticed that my Samsung Focus (SGH-i917) picked up some WiFi networks and I accidentally tapped the option, I saw that I was picking up a wireless network with the SSID of “ShawOpen”.

I remember reading about Shaw launching a city wide wireless network in select areas as a trial. This service compliments your existing internet services you have with Shaw. While the project is currently on trial, when and if it leaves trial, it will simply use the amount of bandwidth you are already paying for with your home Shaw internet package.

More information on the Shaw Exo WiFi Trial can be found here. I believe you can associate 10 devices with your account (someone correct me if I’m wrong) and your device will automatically connect as long as your WiFi is turned on whenever you are in range. It’s a simple, fast, wireless internet connection.

 

Anyways, moral of this story: It was easy to connect, easy to log in (it uses your @shaw.ca e-mail address), and it was fast! And don’t forget, this lets you avoid using your cell phone data plan! I’m definitely going to be using this more often! Good job Shaw!

And remember: Whenever doing anything with confidential data (banking, private stuff, etc…), always make sure the website’s you are accessing use SSL encryption (you’ll see https in the address bar). If data is sent over a wireless connection and not encrypted it can be intercepted.

Dec 052010
 

A new device that I’ve been extremely excited to do a review on is the new Samsung Focus. We’ve long awaited the new release of the next generation of Microsoft’s mobile operating system platform, Windows Phone 7.

In the past, I’ve been an almost religious user of Windows Mobile Device. First the simplistic yet powerful functionality, the capabilities, and main reason being Exchange Push (Outlook Mobile).

Rogers, had a limited web release earlier this month, and due to the condition of my previous cell phone, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to upgrade. I went ahead and purchased the device. 5 days later I got my hands on it.

First Impression:

When receiving the phone, I liked the way it was boxed, the material that came along with it, and the general style of the phone itself. Simplistic, and thankfully I didn’t get the “I’m missing something” feeling I get when I usually receive new toys.

After popping in the SIM card, battery and plugging it in to charge, the phone turned on.

The initial configuration was very easy and friendly. I activated the phone with my Windows Live account, and Facebook details. I don’t like using cell phone providers proxy’d internet, so I pay for the “VPN” option which provide me a real external IP address on the internet, configuring the apn “internet.com” was simple, and I didn’t have to go fishing through the menu’s.

First configuration:

As soon as the initial configuration was done, WOW. This phone is slick. The menu’s, tiles, and all usage of the phone pretty much glided as smooth as could be. I have NO complaints when it comes to general usage.

First things first, I went into the settings menu, and tried to configure pretty much every setting I could. I did this with absolutely no problems and had the device completely configured to my liking, even with absolutely no experience with the phone.

I actually configured so much, that buy the time I was done; I felt I became an expert with the phone usage. I immediately was comfortable with the phone.

Real Usage:

After I was done configuring the phone, I went ahead and started to play. The phone interface was a pleasure, the “People” interface was a pleasure, and pretty much every single little feature that this phone shipped with was a pleasure. It even added all my Facebook contacts to the phone’s phonebook (I wasn’t so hot about this, but disabled it later).

The camera is amazing. Both picture quality and video quality is AMAZING. Camera app allows you to upload directly to Facebook, even add a caption.

One thing that makes me a little upset is the lack of ability to upload videos to the internet from the phone. You have to sync with Zune, and then upload using computer.

Marketplace:

First thing I wanted to do, was check out this “Marketplace” that everyone has been talking about. I’ve seen numerous other websites and reviews commenting on the applications that you can install, particularly the Facebook client, and Twitter client (I’m big on social media). I went ahead and installed both applications. After setting up my various accounts with them, they worked flawlessly. Both clients support ALL features of the two social media sites (except for Facebook places). The interfaces were easy to use, and I actually enjoyed using them on the phone!

One thing I’m choked about, is that Microsoft Marketplace doesn’t sell music to Canadians, we are stuck with applications, and video.

Wi-Fi:

After a few hours of continuous use, I realized I was probably eating away at my data plan (I installed 20+ applications, a game, and numerous other stuff). I decided to give Wi-Fi a try on the phone. Turning it on and connecting to my secured AP was super simple and super quick to do. I also have to add that there was a visible performance increase in applications getting information off the web faster.

Data speeds:

Both, internet access via the cell network, and Wi-Fi were extremely fast. This is very important when using applications that continuously access, or rely on information from the internet. The experience was so nice, that I had no complaints or problems with loading time of large amounts of information which I would have guessed would have taken a lot longer on the device.

Business/E-Mail Configuration:

The first and only major issue I had with this device was configuration of my Microsoft Exchange account. Since the new Windows Phone 7 operating system doesn’t really have a user-accessible file system, and also doesn’t have the capability to play with files, I had to find a way to install the certificate for my Exchange server on my phone.

There are two ways this can be done, either a) setup a different type of e-mail account (gmail, Hotmail, etc…) and e-mail yourself the certificate and run it to install, or b) upload the certificate to a website, and then navigate to it using the browser on the phone.

I don’t have any other types of e-mail accounts, so I just uploaded the certificate to my site, typed it in on Internet Explorer on the phone, and confirmed I wanted to install it.

After this, I configured my exchange account, and the configuration went very smoothly. It downloaded the messages, and it was all done.

Overall:

Overall, I love the device. I’ve been using it non-stop for the past 3 weeks and have no major complains. People have been complaining about the new way of using memory cards and their limitations, however with the amount of storage already shipping on the phone (I think 8GB); I don’t even really need a memory card.

The battery life is amazing on the device, and actually got better overtime. The general belief is to fully charge/fully discharge a cell phone to maintain the battery. In my opinion, I noticed batteries survive longer if you just charge it whenever you get the chance (whether once a day, or a few times every day). The battery with normal usage, and Exchange Push for e-mails I’ve noticed can last longer than 3 days, however I haven’t fully drained the battery yet. Without Exchange, and lighter usage, I can’t even guess how long it would last!

One thing I don’t like, is how light the device is, accompanied by the fact that the phone feels very plastic. I like heavy phones, the kind that have a metallic case, the kind that doesn’t feel like it’s going to slip out of your hand.

Another thing I would like to address is the complaints of the lack of multi-tasking and copy/paste. First off, this phone is so responsive that the lack of multi-tasking doesn’t really bug me. Applications load fast, information is always available, and even thought it would be nice to have multi-tasking, it’s not on my list of complaints. I can live without copy/paste, however it would be nice.

Overall, I’d buy this phone again if for some reason I lost or broke this one. I’d also recommend this phone to all my friends, INCLUDING clients. This is seriously the first phone I’ve owned that allows me to do both business, and social stuff!

Pros/Cons/Would be nice:

Pros:

-Very fast interface

-Battery life AMAZING

-UI is very intuitive

-Amazing speeds (over cell network, or Wi-fi)

-Supports Microsoft Exchange push

-On-screen keyboard easy to use, accurate.

-Facebook/Twitter run great!

-Applications are actually decent!

-Web browsing works great!

-Youtube works great!

Cons:

-If you type fast, chances are you’ll hit the “French” button on the on-screen keyboard, annoying

-Very light phone, plastic feeling

-Cannot upload videos to any type of site, must use your computer to sync, and then upload

-Skipping/Fast-forwarding support is horrible for music and video

Would be nice (please note these are NOT cons, and just exactly what they are, would be nice):

-File system access

-Copy/Paste

-Multi-Tasking

Sep 052010
 

One of the most annoying things I’ve had to deal with is installing BES Express on SBS 2008. Way back earlier in 2010, I was mostly dealing with the 5.0.1x release. There were soo many bugs, so many issues, registry hacks, SQL queries that had to be run, it was just ugly!

 

One word of advice, always download the latest version of the software. Do not take ANY shortcuts on installing it. Either use the video tutorial that RIM has on their BlackBerry site, or use the guide from http://www.smallbizserver.net/Articles/tabid/266/Id/343/How-to-install-BlackBerry-Enterprise-Server-Express-on-a-SBS-2008.aspx

 

I don’t know how much is fixed, however after installing a 5.0.2 this weekend it worked flawlessly after the first install (keep in mind I always use “Blackberry Administration Service Authentication” instead of Windows Authentication because of an old known issue).

Aug 252010
 

Quick rant!

We need a pimped out version of Microsoft OneNote which sync’s with exchange, a dual screen tablet from Microsoft, and handwriting recognition on the tablet.

1) Go to a business meeting, whip up a OneNote note using the tablet instead of laptop or paper.

2) Attach a “Category” to the notes page you just made, then using the stylus drag and flick it over to the other page which “symbolizes” adding/indexing it on to your exchange server. Now the notes are organized and added to the client file on your server! Handwriting was recognized and you just saved yourself a bunch of time!

3) Log on to desktop at office, retrieve notes and work on proposal!

Microsoft, you have the potential! Let’s make it happen!

Aug 232010
 

Well,

Received my FREE (yes free) HP Mini 210 today from HP BlueCarpet (rewards program for HP Partners for selling stuff). I have to say this device is SHAWEET. Way better than my Acer One.

Anyways, to cut to the chase, I’ve got info, I’ve reviewed every service manual, and PDF doc there is. I beleive I can get 3G running on this puppy using the PROPER equipment (utilizing the built in SIM slot, all HP).

Two seperate things are required. HP 3G/HSPA/HSDPA/GSM modem, and the WWAN antennas to be mounted in the display. I’m ordering the parts soon, I’ll post a how to and keep you updated on my progress.

And this device is definitely worth a review (it’s amazing)! Keep posted for that as well.

Aug 182010
 

So, the question I ask myself today is “What happened to Windows Mobile, and where is it going?”

Back earlier this year I got a corporate Rogers account setup for my company. Got a bunch of Xperia X1’s comped under the contract. I’ve had an old Xperia X1 for years (bought it from europe) and loved it back when it was considered one of the newer Windows Mobile phones, but hey, if you can get the same phone free again, why not right?

Anyways, to cut the story short one of the phones on my account got run over, and then mine just mysteriously died out (issues with the ribbon cable). Both were not repairable. Called Rogers, got one replaced under “Out of Warranty” (it’s been weeks since the order was placed, still no sign), then they ran out of stock (for my phone).

So here I am, this was the perfect opportunity for me to go ahead and see what’s new on the market in regards to Windows Mobile devices. I figured I’d just go ahead and buy a new device unlocked straight out (NOT from the local providers).

In my search I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1) All the new sweet phones don’t support the local HSPA frequencies in North America (high speed internet). I’m guessing there’s not enough interest in North America for WM phones.

2) Not too many companies are selling WM phones anymore in North America.

3) Turns out they released WM 7 and it sounded like it was horrible.

4) WM is still super popular in Europe.

5) People are obsessed with the iPhone, and anything that has the word “Google” or “Android” in it. (I bet they couldn’t even explain why they like the products).

Sure the iPhone is great for consumers, and for the simple professionals who don’t rely on their phone to often, but WTF??? And BlackBerry’s are not an option for me. I don’t have the time, patience, or want to setup my own BES server, maintain it, and learn the BB interface and run into limitations I wouldn’t if I was running Windows Mobile.

I’ve been a long term user of Windows Mobile devices. I love the layout, the way they work, the Exchange Push/Sync capabilities. Even the application development possibilities are sweet! But where are the stinking phones? I’m going to have a breakdown if they become extinct!

Anyways, bought an Xperia X2a since it’s one of the newer (actually not so new) phones that you can buy that work HSPA on 850Mhz. I should be receiving it tomorrow. I’ll probably be posting a review, and notes on configuration, etc…

It’s too bad I couldn’t get my hands on a HTC HD2, or a HTC Touch Pro 2.

I’m finishing this off with a question to Microsoft! What happens next? We need to put more dough in to marketing and development, we need to push this product out the ying yang! Outsource to me, I’ll be able to advise on what needs to be done to get a sweet ass device that has a potential to make some HUGE dough in both business markets and consumer markets.

Jul 012010
 

Here’s a few oldies I found while going through the millions of pictures I’ve taken over the years…