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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 

26112009064

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..

  •  
    • 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