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The HTC Desire – It’s all about the speed baby!

May 19, 2010

HTC DesireI’ve had my HTC Desire for about 3 weeks now and it is the first mobile device I’ve ever had, that has exceeded my expectations. I purchased it on a 2 year plan here in Australia.

The first thing you notice about the HTC Desire is how well it has been manufactured. The HTC Desire fits well in the hand and is very tactile in design. The buttons are well proportioned and give proper feedback when used. The HTC Desire is standardised nicely, by that I mean that the connections are all standard mobile interfaces such as the 3.5mm audio jack at the top and the micro USB connection for PC connection at the base of the unit.

3.5mm Audio Jack

The Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) screen is very bright and rich in colour. The 3.7” display is a delight to use, both inside and outside buildings and as it is a capacitive touch screen it is highly responsive.

 AMOLED Screen

Great to see that HTC has joined the industry par for camera megapixels and the HTC Desire has an impressive 5 megapixel camera with single led flash that is very bright for a single diode flash. I’ve included some photos taken with the device to show both night & day photos.

View HTC Desire photos (Day & night shots)

When I first used the HTC Desire I was overwhelmed by how incredibly fast it is. This is damn impressive considering some of the other mobile devices that are selling for substantially more than the HTC Desire, that are far inferior in how they perform the same actions. The HTC Desire is powered by the Qualcomm SnapDragon processor and it is well named due to how “snappy” the device is to use. Screens whiz past smoothly and applications are very fast to load. The HTC Desire is far superior to previous Android devices in how the processor handles multiple applications running at the same time. Can you say “multitasking anyone?

The next surprise was how the user interface named “HTC Sense” has come along way since it’s early days. Previously this interface has been quickly replaced by hackers due to how difficult it was to use. I was impressed at how HTC have obviously done their homework and actioned on the feedback from users. The updated HTC Sense is brilliant and makes interacting with the Desire a pleasure.

One highly un reported feature is the use of “scenes” for the 6 home screens. I have found this to be a quick way to setup the multiple screens for various scenarios such as entertainment, business & driving in the car. The feature extends the usage of the home screens to whole new levels.

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Applications

The Android marketplace is booming. Since the first Android device I used a couple of years back with only a few apps within the Marketplace, it is now packed with many different types of applications and the new Marketplace interface and search is great for finding apps quickly.

I’ve created a short list of some must have apps for the HTC Desire:

  • Handcent SMS – A great SMS messaging app that graphically shows SMS conversations in conversation bubbles.
  • Google Goggles – This is what Android does best. Use the camera as a search tool! Great demonstration of visual search.
  • Twitter (Newly released) – Never thought I’d see a replacement for Twitdroid!
  • Google Sky Map – This is a great pp for confirming what planet, star, galaxy or constellation you are looking at. Again a brilliant demo of using the GPS & accelerometer.
  • ASTRO File Manager – A nice simple, but powerful file manager for accessing files on your SD card.
  • TasKiller Free – A brilliant little app that comes with 3 different sized widgets so you can easily remove apps from memory.
  • Sportstracker – Great to see this Symbian app now on Android. I can continue my outdoor adventures using this app to track & record my progress.
  • GPS Test – Simple and easy way to see what & how your GPS is tracking.
  • WiFi Analyzer – A comprehensive tool for checking all apsects of WiFi networks including what channe;s you have available and how congested they may or may not be.
  • Engadget – Nice interface for browsing some of the latest from Engadget properly formatted for your device.

Accessories

There are a plethora of accessories to choose from, but it can still be buyer beware especially with getting some from overseas on Ebay and other such auction sites.

I’ve purchased 3 items that have all been delivered ok and are as described for my HTC Desire.

  1. The Zagg invisible shield. – They have great product that protects your device (screen, sides and back) and they even let you customise it with your very own favourite picture!
  2. Easecase D2 for HTC Desire – this is from this Ebay seller http://myworld.ebay.com.au/easecase. Being able to customise all aspects of your device case/holder is awesome. Highly recommended!
  3. Hard Skin Case – Again on EBay this seller gives a bundle of 3 of these cases and they fit nicely on the device. I received good service from http://myworld.ebay.com.au/gyb_hk/

Summary

I can’t get enough of this delicious device! I find myself constantly picking up the HTC Desire and getting immersed in the mobile world it opens up. If this is the quality of what HTC is turning out now, I’m excited as to what other Android devices will be coming out in the next 18 months or so. Android has matured extremely well and is a development platform that has plenty of longevity in it so we should see it become a leader in mobile in the not so distant future.

I recommend waiting for the HTC Desire in Australia until it comes out on other carriers or if you can’t wait then purchasing an unlocked one on eBay is the go, as the main carrier who currently has it exclusively does not have adequate data plans available for the device.

Posted By Shane Williamson

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Blog found after being “lost” for a month.

April 23, 2010

After 1 month of being “lost” Microsoft today restored the majority of my blog. So what happened, you may ask? Well that’s a very interesting story. I’ll start at teh beginning.

Around March 18th I noticed I couldn’t post to my blog. On closer inspection I noticed it was completely missing. My Windows Live ID which gave me access to Hotmail, Passport & SkyDrive was also deleted.

I eventually located the support website, which wasn’t really a support website at all, as it is an online forum where users with issues had to post to the forum and hope someone would assist. So, I made my first post and after 24 hours got no response. So I created a second post, again after 24 hours no response. I then posted 2 separate posts, one for the missing Live ID and one for the blog. Eventually I got a response to the Live ID issue and this was resolved after a few days.

I won’t boar you with the rest of the frustrating banter back and forth with first level support people, as it was ridiculous that no one thought to escalate the issue higher up. The fun part was when one support individual claimed that the blog “couldn’t exist” as it wasn’t showing up on his system. I replied with showing him the list of search hits on the domain name with Google. Once again no response to this.

Microsoft Windows Live support failed majorly at this stage. I was so unbelievably frustrated that Microsoft wouldn’t escalate this issue, that I turned to something I knew would make a difference, Social Media.

I Twittered abut the problem, then someone following me reTweeted what I had said and then the local press latched on to the story. My lost blog drama was published on ITWire hereand on ZDnet here

It was after this that I finally got a serious response from Microsoft that explained how an over zealous anti-spam employee deleted my blog & Windows Live ID.

Their email stated,
“Many here at Microsoft have been investigating the issue with your missing Spaces data and blog entries. We have found that your Space was deleted due to a critical human error which occurred as a part of our spam abuse removal process. We are terribly sorry that this unintentional error occurred.

This type of mistake is very rare and we are still actively working to recover your data, though unfortunately we are just not sure it is possible. Protecting our hundreds of millions of users from rampant and often very serious abuse, from annoying spam up through the spectrum to vicious malware and child pornography, is a fundamental responsibility that Windows Live considers and addresses in a serious manner.

Like all providers of online services, our approach to this process includes an array of automated and human–assisted systems and tasks. In your particular case, our human agent inadvertently made policy enforcement error which resulted in the wrongful deletion of your blog entries and Space content existing prior to 3/19/10.

Again, we will continue to work on attempting to retrieve your data from backup, but we cannot guarantee the effort will be successful. We are very sorry, but ask for your understanding in that this very unfortunate error took place in the direct service of our vital efforts to protect all Windows Live users from spam abuse. As we continue to work on recovering your data, we will provide you with ongoing status.”

From here on Microsoft’s responses and actions were as expected from such an organisation. I was kept up to date with their proceedings and eventually was notified that they had restored the majority of my blog with just a few images they couldn’t restore.

I hope that Microsoft has learnt from this experience and implements changes to their Windows Live support escalation procedures as this would have been less frustrating and stressful for myself and for Microsoft less damaging.

Posted by a relieved
Shane Williamson

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…

image

… 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