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Microsoft Windows Phone Series 7 will not run previous windows mobile apps.

March 8, 2010

Whilst many may see this as a negative outcome from Microsoft, this is, in my opinion, a good thing. Microsoft had to restart their foray into mobile and what they have uncovered so far at the Mobile World Congress looks to be that they are eager to get back in the game. The new look and feel of Windows Phone Series 7 is a dramatic difference to the old tired Windows mobile operating system.

Microsoft’s new mobile operating system is far improved from anything that they could have progressed further within the old operating system. The new interface is based on their Zune media player devices and is a massive step in the right direction for a much improved user experience.

User experience is paramount in mobile. One of the few good things that Apple has done with the iPhone is the brilliant user experience and seamless interaction of the individual parts. Sure the iPhone doesn’t have a lot of standard features we see on other mobiles, but the user experience can make up for this as proven by the usage case studies of iPhones vs. other Smartphones.

Any Windows mobile developers should be heartened that Microsoft is changing their mobile strategy even though it is very late in making this change. The secret to Microsoft’s success on mobile will be the same that was for Apples,and they are 3rd party developers.

If Microsoft executes this right and supports their developer community properly then we may see a better ecosystem around the new platform and therefore higher competition in the mobile operating system environment.

Developers should head over to http://www.windowsphone7series.com/ and register for future updates.

Posted By Shane Williamson

How Twitter helped me buy a new PC.

January 11, 2010

After 5 years of service my original Alienware PC system was upgraded to the hilt. The only times it was turned off or restarted were due to either blackouts or having to install software or hardware updates. It has been an outstanding, hardworking gaming rig.

Recently I started the whole researching cycle into a new gaming system and was a bit nervous looking at Alienware again as they had been purchased by Dell. I played around with some online quotes on the Australian Dell site, but was disappointed with limited selection. I decided to call Dell directly to see of they could source some of the US system components.

Calling Dell sales was excruciatingly painful. I talked to 4 different sales people, two of which hang up on me when I asked to many difficult questions about the PC components and the others where criminally uneducated about the Alienware systems. Simple questions about the power supply, motherboard components and upgrade options where all too difficult. I was disheartened that I was wanting to spend AUS$5000 on a new pc and I was getting treated like I was buying a $20 keyboard.

I was so frustrated by this poor customer experience that I Tweeted about my negative encounter…

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… and you wouldn’t believe it but, someone from Dell read it.

Within a few hours of my Tweet I was contacted by a local senior manager from Dell asking if I would like to talk to someone, whom he said, would be able to assist me. A short time later I was talking to a better sales person whom assisted me greatly.

Unfortunately it turned out that the requirements I was looking for in a new PC were not going to be released in Australia by Dell for at least a month, so I requested to be contacted when they were released.

This delay prompted me to look elsewhere and it became apparent that whilst a Dell Alienware system was not the cheapest or even the highest specification as from other suppliers, I was getting mixed responses by local “yum cha” PC dealers who wouldn’t have a clue about what a customer was or how to keep them, let alone appear interested that I had money to throw at them.

Surprisingly Dell recontacted me, exactly when they said they would and with the better specifications I was looking for. Dell also stood out from the other vendors I got quotes from as they had a 3 year onsite warranty.

As Dell made a huge effort to win me back as a customer, I purchased a new Dell Alienware Area 51 ALX!

Dell Alienware Area 51 ALX

  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit
  • Intel Core i7-975 Processor Extreme Edition (3.33GHz, 8MB)
  • 6GB (3X2GB) DDR3 SDRAM 1600MHz Memory
  • 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor SATA 3.0Gb/s (10,000RPM)
  • 1792MB NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) GTX 295
  • Creative PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi(TM) Titanium 

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Whilst I wasn’t expecting Dell to react to my initial Tweet about the poor sales experience, I was pleasantly surprised that they did. In fact I thought a competitor would read my Tweet and respond which didn’t happen.

It is a crucial lesson for PC manufacturers to learn that if you are not listening to your customers or potential customers are saying about your products on social media networks, you are missing out on opportunities. Cluetrain Manifesto 101!

Posted by Shane Williamson

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Changing the Product Code on your Nokia N97

September 26, 2009

What is a Product Code and why would I want to change it?

The Nokia N97 has hundreds of different product codes for all the different carrier types and countries around the globe. This product code is used by the Nokia Software Updater to load carrier specific firmware to your device when it becomes available. Unfortunately, some carriers prevent updates as they do not approve every firmware builds. This means that some users will not get the full benefits of the latest updates from Nokia when everyone else gets access to them, such as the recent update to Ver.12 fo the firmware.

Another reason you may want to change your Product Code, is that you want to remove all the carrier branded software and themes from your device. Changing the N97’s Product Code to a generic Australian one means you get the Nokia updates as soon as they are available for the region and it has the generic country region software installed.

Changing the Product Code

NOTE: Changing your product code uses software that can “brick” your device (render it unusable) if used incorrectly & void your warranty.

If you still want to change your Nokia N97 Product Code there are a few methods on the Internet, but some are tricky and others very dangerous as they try to install trojan horse malware on your PC. My experience with the JAF FULL PKEY EMULATOR by OGM Development, as outlined on this site, is a dangerous application that should be avoided. I tried two versions (V3 & v5) and both tried to install trojan malware over key Windows system files.

Eventually I came across The Symbian Blog’s instructions which use the Nemesis Service Suite (NSS) which was much easier and safer to use.

One key thing I came across, that was not listed in the instructions, was that you should sure you use an original device USB cable plugged directly into your PC, not through an extension cable or a USB hub. Otherwise the software may be unable to read the device.

Secondly, after the process is completed you may have to “hard reset” your device. Instructions for doing that are here with diagram.

I successfully changed my N97 Product Code from a carrier code to a generic Australian code (0576124) so I was then able to upgrade from firmware Ver.11 to Ver.12.

Posted by Shane Williamson

Sprint misleading the public about launching 4G in the USA.

August 7, 2009
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Looks like Sprint has some marketing people on whacky weed as they have issued various press releases that they have deployed 4G in the USA which they claim is using WiMAX (www.sprint.com/4G).

WiMAX is NOT a 4G standard.

At the time of this post there is no recognised international standard of what is the next evolution of 3G called “4G” for Fourth Generation. Various industry associations such as 3GPP (http://www.3gpp.org) are investigating putting forward technologies such as LTE Advanced as a 4G technology, but the battle is far from over as to what will become the final standard. In fact, we may see competing technologies like we did for 3G with UMTS vs CDMA2000.

Companies like Sprint are mudding the waters for wireless broadband as they are using standard based definitions to describe inferior technologies. WiMAX is a great technology, but it is not 4G. The sooner we get a ratified industry standard, the quicker we can stop the cowboys abusing the terminology and confusing customers.

Posted by Shane Williamson

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Win a Microsoft Surface table by submitting a Windows Mobile application to their new app store!

July 28, 2009

Microsoft is spreading more mobile developer goodness with a great competition for their new Windows Mobile application Marketplace that will be giving away a Microsoft Surface Table to the winner. Called the “Race To Market Challenge”, developers can submit their Windows Mobile application and whoever gets the most downloads or most revenue wins.

The Microsoft rules states

”The object of this Contest is to create an application available in the Microsoft Windows Marketplace for Mobile online store ("Marketplace") that receives the highest number of downloads during the Download Period.”

Prizes will be given for,

  • One application in the FREE category will be declared the winner based on the total number of downloads from Marketplace.
  • One application in the PAID category will be declared the winner based on the total revenue (application price multiplied by the number of downloads from Marketplace, determined in a US Dollar equivalent using current market conversion rates).

Submissions began on the 27th July and will end on 31st December 2009, so hurry up and get registering!

http://www.mobilethisdeveloper.com

Posted By Shane Williamson

Nokia N97 is the perfect upgrade for N95 users.

July 24, 2009

nokia-n95-maps I have been waiting for ‘the device’ to upgrade my Nokia N95 from for quite some time. When Nokia announced the N96, a lot of us N95 users thought the wait was over, but unfortunately it wasn’t. In the flesh the N96 was a very poor cousin to the N95, both in build quality and features, so there was more going against upgrading to it than for.

Then some time later, early reports about the next Nokia N-Series in line to the N95, the Nokia N97, held promise that Nokia hadn’t lost it’s meandering way and was building a decent next generation device that was as revolutionary as the N95 was when it first came out. I was eager to get my hands on the N97 to see if this was the N95 upgrade I’ve been waiting for.

image After reviewing the N97 for a couple of weeks now, I can heartily say that N95 users now have the perfect device to upgrade too. At first glance the Nokia N97 has a lot of features that the N95 was screaming out for, such as..

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    • a separate Qwerty keyboard,
    • larger display,
    • touch screen interface, and
    • USB connection power charging
    • more memory

Whilst these alone, are not the only deciders for purchasing the device for myself, I’ve highlighted a few bonus features in the Nokia N97 that do make it a slam dunk decision.

Design – The Nokia N97 is well built. The N97 feels solid, especially the opening and closing action of it’s snugly hinged keyboard. The design compared to the N95 is very different, in that the N95 always felt stout and rugged, whereas the N97 has a svelte look and feel.

Widgets – At first the widgets didn’t appeal much to me, but on using them further, they become a highly addictive information source. I’m only disappointed that there are not more widgets or even a dedicated widget area on the OVI app store so you can easily track them down.

Applications – I was impressed to see many of the apps I use on the N95 now available on the N97. Applications like the Nokia Sports Tracker (http://sportstracker.nokia.com) are a must for anyone who wants to track their exercise regime with the N97’s GPS. However there are a few Symbian software laggards who are slow in getting their products across to the device.

FM Transmitter – The FM transmitter is a great addition that I didn’t know about till after using the N97. The ability to beam music from the N97 directly to any radio makes it a great travelling companion. I just came back from a trip to Canberra and using the N97 with the car radio was far better than messing about with radio adaptors and cables.

Email support  – The N97 has built in email for Microsoft Exchange and other popular web based email services like Gmail & Hotmail. Whilst the application is basic it is very easy to setup and use. It also comes with an email Widget that allows you to see new email from your home screen.

There are however dome dislikes, that are more frustrating than barriers to purchase. The first is that the inbuilt compass needs to be calibrated before every use. This seems very weird as other devices such as the HTC Dream do not need calibration from the user. The second issue is that there is no preloaded QR Code reader, which is completely baffling.

My wife was so impressed with the review N97, that she promptly went out and purchased one. However she was bitterly disappointed that that there were no white N97s available. Hopefully these will start appearing soon.

At the time of this post Optus seems to have the best post paid cap plan for the N97 in Australia. Be wary of purchasing the N97 with a Vodafone cap plans as their advertised data has ridiculous restrictions on it, like no video streaming, no 3rd party application data and does not include downloaded files over 3Gb.

Posted By Shane Williamson

US$100,000 human jetpack for sale later in 2009.

May 25, 2009

DVICE has this update about how New Zealand based company Martin Jetpack (http://www.martinjetpack.com/) have progressed quite a way since 9 months ago with a new demonstration of their jetpack. Whist it is only an indoor demo, the footage is quite impressive.

If you are thinking of buying one, you need to put up a US$10,000 refundable deposit on the US$100,000 price tag per unit. You will then have to complete at least 5 days of flight training on the unit at your own expense. Looks like if you fail the training you don’t get to buy one. Details of purchasing in the USA only at the moment, are here http://www.martinjetpackusa.com/ 

This is very cool to see this type of technology starting to become publically accessible as well as affordable. Looks like I will live to see people using these to fly to work 🙂

Posted By Shane Williamson

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REVIEW: The Linksys MediaHub brings speed and easy upgrades.

May 13, 2009

image I was recently given the opportunity to review the Linksys Media Hub Home Entertainment Storage with LCD (Model:NMH405) that is now available in Australia for AUS$700. Linksys was purchased by Cisco in 2003 and we are now starting to see some of the fruits of that merger as Linksys becomes the main drive of innovative products into the home network for the traditional enterprise company.

Whilst this high-end version of the Linksys’s media hub range is the costly bells and whistles version, the device is impressively fast as a media server. The problem with using standard desktop PCs as media sharing devices is that they are prone to other applications stealing away valuable processor time and which causes jerky playback of high end video or music streams to the client device.

Having a stand alone media hub means that everyone on the home network has direct access to the media at any time and it also serves as an extra backup facility.

The Linksys Media Hub is a gorgeous looking device and is very speedy with transferring large media files to the device as well as streaming high end videos to networked clients. I trialled a couple of full length DVD movies ripped at full resolution and the device didn’t miss a beat on playback even when a second stream was delivered from the device to another PC.

Admittedly, there are other options in the market to a dedicated media hub, such as network connected hard drives, but these devices are built for storage, not streaming videos or pictures quickly. These storage devices suffer another problem and that is they become superseded too quickly. A unique feature of the Linksys Media hub compared to dedicated hard drive units, is the user can easily upgrade the SATA hard drives within the system. The Linksys Media Hub comes with 2 SATA hard disk bays and the user can add another SATA drive for extra capacity. This gives the unit a greater life span, than those units that can’t be upgraded.

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Linksys Media Hub has two upgradable SATA drive bays.

The Linksys Media Hub comes with software that assists you in managing your media via a PC networked to the system. As well as the software there is a robust web interface for other clients that do not use the software.

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The Linksys media Hub media management software

The other great feature I would have liked to try out, but couldn’t, was using the Linksys Media Hub with an XBOX360 using the UPnP protocol for streaming media. Unfortunately my Xbox360 suffered the red ring of death and was absent during the testing. This feature allows the user to stream media from the device to their Xbox360. I use this feature of the Xbox360 with DVDs that my daughter watches regularly. Ripping the movie only from DVDs removes unwanted advertising and difficult to use menu systems making it much easier for children to use the system and view their movies.

Upgrade for the firmware and software is easily accessible from the Australian Linksys website, but there was no firmware updates at the time of this review. There is also a fairly active user forum (http://forums.linksysbycisco.com/linksys/?category.id=MediaHub) that is great for peer-to-peer recommendations for setting up your media and ad-hoc support questions on the device.

Overall I was nervous at the high price of this unit compared to the competition, but the speed, easy upgradeability and the high quality of the unit easily makes up for it.

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Linksys Media Hub technical specifications 

Posted By Shane Williamson

Impressive mobile projectors at Cebit

May 13, 2009

1 year ago I was walking the halls of Cebit in Australia looking for a small projector that could be used with a mobile device and couldn’t find any. This year I found many devices being shown and a couple of them were quite impressively demonstrated. I’ll outline some details on two devices that I was impressed with.

The first is the Visimax distributed by Maxon Australia www.maxon.com.au. The Visimax looks to be a very robust and fully featured device, but being the top dollar of nearly AUS$500 it was the most expensive. Unfortunately the staff on the stand couldn’t demo the unit properly except to turn it on and show the onscreen menu. So, not sure what the image or video quality would be like.

Maxon Visimax

Resolution: 640 x 480 pixels
Brightness: 15 lumens
Light Source: LED
Video: NTSC/PAL/SECAM
Battery: Yes (30 min projection time)

Price: AUS$495

The second device, The Digishow Handheld Projector (www.digishow.com.au) was on display at two locations at Cebit, one showing it in full swing as a gaming console projector using the Digislide Gaming Xray mount (www.digislidegaming.com) and the other in the South Australian Government pavilion demonstrating attached to a Nokia N95. This device was most impressive due to how they were being demonstrated in the two scenarios. The image quality and brightness of the Digishow Handheld Projector was good especially since it was being shown on an open stand under the bright indoor lights.


Digishow Handheld Projector

Resolution: 640 x 480
Brightness: 8 ~ 10 lumens
Light Source: LED
Video: PAL & NTSC
Battery: Yes (up to 2 hours)

Price: AUS$399
The Digishow handheld Projector mounted on a Digislide Gaming XRAY speaker & projector mount on Xbox360.
The Digishow Handheld Projector attached to a Nokia N95.

Whilst the Visimax was the brightest at 15 lumens it has a very short battery life for such an expensive device. The Digishow Handheld Projector was by far the most impressive and a testament to it being demoed well in the two different areas. If you are a mobile professional and demo your product or service regularly on your mobile, then this is the must have sales accessory.

Posted by Shane Williamson

The tipping point for mobile operating systems

April 7, 2009

A key decider in a mobile operating system manufacturer’s battle for market share, is how and if, they are able to migrate outside of the traditional mobile phone market into other devices. It looks like Android is about to make the dash into other household appliances according to this article in the New York Times.

This is important for mobile operating system manufactures, as it increases their developer pool into non traditional mobile application areas that then expands the mobile operating system ecosystem. Mobile operating systems can be utilised in many different areas other than mobile phones such as vehicles, audio visual equipment, office equipment, vending machines, security systems, home automation and even traditional white-good appliances.

Developing a ubiquitous Application Programme Interface (API) has been tried by many before, but transcending into the different device types is a difficult journey. Microsoft has attempted to some degree to spread their Windows API into mobile and other household devices such as personal data appliances (PDAs), remote controls and media servers, but they always ended up having to change the API set considerably making development difficult for developers to port their code from one platform operating system to another.

Google’s Android operating system may become a platform nirvana if it can maintain that API set across multiple device types. Microsoft’s Windows operating environment comes with the legacy of an untethered world when it was first created. Android, however does not, as it was conceived in a connected and wireless world, making it more adaptive of this type of environment and is a good example of how a mobile operating system is cloud computing aware and takes advantage of this highly popular infrastructure.

The road to API nirvana is fraught with danger if core capabilities are not included, such as a well thought out product roadmap, a rigorous support system, a great usability experience and a sound development cost model.

It will be interesting to see where Android appears in next and if they keep a pure and open API environment.

Posted By Shane Williamson