This is just to leave a note that this site is, for all intents and purposes, abandoned. Anything I wish to share publicly will probably be done via Twitter (@DaveBeauvais).
If anyone reading this has a new Palm Treo Pro and can’t wait for companies to make screen protectors for it, I stumbled upon a temporary solution. The Treo Pro’s screen is physically the same size as the Treo 700w/700wx, even though its resolution is higher. I had one Pocket PC Techs WriteShield protector left over from my old Treo 700w and it fits perfectly over the Treo Pro’s screen, including most of the silver trim around it. Sadly, the corners don’t make a perfect seal against the surface, so dust is likely to collect around the edges after a day or two. (Especially if I carry the device in my pocket, as I’d prefer to do.) This should tide me over until something better comes along, though. (The joys of early adoption.) Here are a couple photos showing what it looks like. Keep clicking for the full-size view.
As an aside, I’m really liking the Treo Pro a lot. The BlackJack II is a great phone, but I didn’t realize how much I’d miss the touchscreen. The Treo Pro is great on many levels: very thin, hardware keyboard, and touchscreen. And the Opera Mobile 9.5 beta, which didn’t work on Windows Mobile Standard, actually makes Web browsing enjoyable again. I do wish mobile device companies would back off the current trend of making everything glossy, though. Not only is this thing (and the BlackJack II, for that matter) a fingerprint magnet, it feels as if it’s going to slip out of my hands. I may get an Invisible Shield for the back just to make it less slippery in my hand. I can’t see using that with a stylus, though, given the tacky, slightly rubbery feel.
When I first saw the MacBook Air commercial on TV it wasn’t the notebook I was paying attention to, but the music. It seems I wasn’t alone as this post from the PromoGuy.net site reveals the identity of the artist and the song as Yael Naim’s New Soul. There’s also a link in the article to the album on iTunes if you’re into that.
Yael’s Web site links to the following video, which I hope means it won’t get yanked due to copyright violation.
Jason Dunn mentions on his site that he’s recently been spammed by Paramount Pictures using an e-mail address he gave to them while requesting more information about the upcoming movie Iron Man. Like him, I use unique e-mail addresses for each company or service I do business with, and like him I’ve had this happen with a few of my unique addresses.
The worst is the address used for my eMusic subscription, which now receives between 20-50 spams each day. I am also receiving spam at the address I used when I was a Sprint PCS customer, as well as addresses used for rebate submissions to Sprint, CompUSA, Micro Center, and Daewoo Electronics. The latter two were separate store and manufacturer rebates on a 17″ LCD monitor a few years back and I used a different variation of the address for each rebate. Both addresses receive the same spam, usually only a few seconds apart. It wasn’t until last week that I noticed the spam at the Sprint PCS addresses; one was my customer address, the other was for a Sprint mail-in rebate.
A search for eMusic spam turned up several people who have had unique addresses given only to eMusic become targets for spam. I complained to eMusic support about about this and actually got a response from a human asking me to forward complete copies of some example spam along with message headers. I sent them twenty samples and a week or two later got the same response others have received: it’s a dictionary attack.
That’s crap. If it were a dictionary attack I would be getting tens of thousands of spams to all kinds of unique words or word combinations. Instead, the spam I receive is targeted at about three or four specific addresses these days. In fact, about 90% of my spam has been stopped simply by blocking about twenty specific addresses at the server; before that, I would routinely receive anywhere from 3,000-4,000 spams every 24 hours. The remaining 300-400 spams I receive each day are sent almost exclusively to my primary e-mail address and my eMusic address.
As an aside, because I have never used my primary address for anything but personal mail, I suspect the majority of the spam is from well-meaning friends using it to send e-cards or it having been harvested from peoples’ mailboxes by viruses, worms, and other malware. Folks, BCC is a friend and you should use it. It’s simply not a good idea to send a message addressed to tens or hundreds of To or CC recipients. But that’s a different topic.
I recently had to rebuild my XV6700 and while I was at it, decided to check for upgrades for the software I use on it. I remembered that Two Peaks Software’s Personal Vehicle Manager had been taken over by Iambic, so I checked through my e-mail for the upgrade notice that was sent and proceeded to grab the latest version.
I discovered that Iambic’s registration method is rather convoluted. You must first install the software on the device either from the desktop or a CAB installer on the device, get the Device ID from the About box, go to their Web site (on a desktop PC) and enter that ID into a form to generate your registration code. You must then type that code into separate boxes on the device as show here.
I keep all of my software registration codes in another program on my device, so I always have them with me if needed. The annoyance with this registration method is that if I’m installing while not near a desktop PC, I have to switch back and forth between Vehicle Manager and my registration code list. (That’s assuming I already had the code and wasn’t trying to fight with their Web site in IE on the device.) Why? Because I can’t simply copy and paste the entire code due to the separate boxes.
Don’t the developers actually use handheld devices and realize how awkward and inconvenient their registration system is? Sure, it’s a one time process for most people, but it makes the software seem unnecessarily unfriendly.
Back in February I posted about a problem I was having with my XV6700 which was preventing me from dismissing most reminders. In March I found a solution to the problem which did not require hard resetting the device. I used the device for all of March and April and never had a single problem so I feel comfortable posting about it here as a possible solution for others having the same problem.
The solution I found was to disable automatic time synchronization with the cellular network. Apparently every time the PDA is powered up it syncs the time with the network and that process causes an occasional hiccup if a reminder is what woke up the device rather than the user pressing the power button. Disabling the time sync feature has completely eliminated the problem I was having where I could not dismiss reminders and the reminder sound continued to play over and over until I soft reset.
Here is how to disable the time sync feature:
Tap Start, Settings, and tap the “Phone” icon on the Personal tab.
Tap the Services tab and scroll down in the list to “Time Synchronization.” Select that item then tap the “Get Settings…” button.
Uncheck the box labeled “Time synchronize with mobile network automatically.” Note that you can always come back to this dialog any time and manually sync by tapping the “Update Now” button.
After doing this, my reminder problems disappeared completely and my XV6700 has been problem-free for over two months! I don’t know if a similar fix is available for other models. Please report back if you have any luck with models other than the XV6700.
After getting to Bowling Green, Ohio for the the conference I mentioned in Thursday’s rant, I found out that I was only about ten minutes away from a good friend of mine. As I had never been to Bowling Green before, I used my XV6700 and Bluetooth GPS receiver with Mapopolis to guide me and track mileage for reimbursement next week. On the way up, I listened to some Fair Game podcasts in Windows Media Player on the PDA via an FM transmitter on my car’s stereo, while Mapopolis and the GPS guided me safely to the hotel with accurate directions. As I drove, someone called me, Media Player paused itself, and I answered the call on my Bluetooth headset with the press of its button. When done, the call ended, and Media Player resumed right where it left off.
After I got some time away from the conference at the end of the day Thursday, I arranged to visit my friend and his family at their house. As I’d never been there before I was not familiar with the area, he gave me directions, but I decided that I wanted a little technological backup. I fired up Microsoft’s Live Search on the phone, told it to use the GPS, and asked it to generate directions to his house from the current GPS position. It worked perfectly, downloading map data as I drove via the EvDO connection and updating the display with the next turn as I approached it. While it doesn’t do text-to-speech, spoken directions, rerouting in the case of a missed turn, or many other driver-friendly things that Mapopolis does, it definitely shows where navigation technology might be headed in the near future. As wireless data becomes more ubiquitous, things like this will become much more useful and common. I look forward to devices having built-in GPS receivers so the need for a separate receiver is a thing of the past.
I went to his house again after the conference ended on Friday afternoon, this time giving Google Maps for Windows Mobile a try. I found it to be much more clumsy than Live Search; it lacks the finger-friendly features of Live Search which make it simple to locate things with a minimum of typing. The GPS position indicator is small, hard to see, doesn’t indicate the direction of travel, and I found that it often didn’t center on my location automatically after switching from map, to directions, and back again. I do like the large finger-friendly zoom in/out buttons on-screen, which seem easier to use than Live Search’s method of zooming.
The one thing I did notice is that Google often has more current, and much higher resolution satellite imagery than Live does, but Live Search wins in just about every other way in my book. Neither one is a full replacement for dedicated navigation software — yet — but I do see myself using Live Search more than Mapopolis in the future.
Hmm, somehow this became a product mini-review… The point of this post is that my trip was a technological success. My gadgets all just worked with the exception of my laptop and the hotel’s Internet access which never worked. Except for when I was on my friend’s wireless network, the laptop never got used and in retrospect, I could have just left it at home and not had to tote it around the conference. I was able to keep up on e-mail, listen to some fun podcasts, read my RSS feeds via Google Reader, and was able to find new places and meet up with friends because of my PDA, a reliable phone network, and mobile technology that did what it was supposed to do. I was very impressed!
I am writing this (edit: started writing this) on my PDA as I ride a chartered bus to dinner and a Toledo Mudhens game at Fifth Third Field in Toledo, Ohio. I’m up here for a three-day conference with a bunch of other IT people from various organizations as well as many technology vendors, so I would bet that almost 100% of the people in attendance have at least one mobile phone on them.
What prompts me to write this is the man sitting in the seat across the aisle from me who is speaking very loudly into his phone about clients, meetings that he’s rescheduled for next week, and other assorted things which I guarantee are of no interest to anyone on the bus. And yet we must listen.
I flew to Florida last winter and was seated next to someone who called six people in the span of half an hour while we waited our turn in line for the runway. I know that he spent the night sleeping in and wandering around the airport, that there are exactly seven minutes between automated announcements about no smoking in the teminal, and that he had only one coffee and a donut to eat since last night. I had the luxury in that case to hear both sides of his calls as the volume on his phone was turned up so high that every word the other person spoke was clearly audible.
There is debate now about whether mobile phones should be allowed to be used on aircraft. Whether for technical, health, or safety reasons, I am pretty certain that there will be violence erupting on planes if the use of phones is permitted as passengers become irritated with inconsiderate people carrying on conversations for the duration of multi-hour flights. If you want to check your e-mail, browse the Web, or some other data-related thing that doesn’t disturb others, fine; heck, I do it all the time. When you are speaking, however, you are basically forcing everyone around you to listen to what you’re saying, and that’s a different situation.
Have some consideration for those around you, especially in an enclosed environment such as an airplane, bus, or train, where people can’t get away from you when you annoy them. You may think your phone call is important, but everyone around you probably doesn’t need to hear it. Very few people in this world are so important that they can’t wait until they’re off the plane or vehicle to talk on the phone in a more secluded location. And if you are that important, I feel sorry for you that you can’t get even a little bit of time away from work to sit quietly on a plane and read a book.
All I can say is that I must have done something to offend the technology gods. As I type this on my PDA, my broadband service is out and my hosted Exchange service from 4SmartPhone has been unavailable for one full day. I first noticed that last night when I tried to sync two new appointments from my PDA and got the oh-so-cryptic ActiveSync “Support code: 0×85010014″. So since it was raining, I decided to pop in the first of my Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 6 DVDs and discovered that my DVD player is dying.
WOW, my broadband ISP, can’t get anyone here until next Tuesday, but when I told them my neighbor, who has home phone and Internet service through them, is also down and has no usable phone, they said if she calls, they can get someone out today. I just got a call from her and someone should be to her house within the hour. It’s interesting that a tech is available on short notice when phone service is involved, but they can’t come out for three days for plain old Internet service, even though it comes in on the same cable, through the same modem, and is handled by the same techs. This has been a recurring problem for over a year. They come out, “fix” something, it works for a month or so, then goes out again. The last major outage lasted about four days and got us a ten dollar service credit each month for a year. The next outage will result in switching providers to Time Warner RoadRunner… which may not be any better, but at least it’ll be different.
Okay, thumbs are tired now.
Update: Service was restored at about 21:00 EDT Saturday night after being out for approximately six to seven hours. We got a call from WOW this morning asking if everything was okay. They explained that there was an outage in the area and that it had been fixed. Thanks, WOW, for the follow-up call, but you’ve got to do something to fix this for good. These monthly outages are just unacceptable.
Update: I posted a solution to this problem that I discovered. Let me know if it fixes your problem.
I’ll start by saying that this isn’t the reminder problem that many Windows Mobile users are used to hearing about. (You know, the one where your reminders never fire at all and you miss your appointments?) The problem I am writing about today is irritating on the other end of that scale: my reminders do go off, but I can’t see what they are and have no way to dismiss them. I first noticed this about two months ago, and it was very rare; maybe once per week. Now, it’s happening almost every time a reminder goes off and it’s driving me insane.
If I’m looking at my XV6700 when the reminder fires, I can see that the “toast” — the little notification window that slides up from the bottom of the screen — appears for about one second, then disappears. The reminder bell icon in the title/navigation bar at the top of the screen also disappears. The reminder sound, however, continues to repeat and there’s no way to make it go away other than to soft reset the device. Switching from portrait to landscape mode does not help, either.
I did find reference to another person having the exact same problem. Suggestions were to use MemMaid to clean up bogus or duplicate entires in the notification queue, or to hard reset the device. I don’t have any orphaned or other invalid notifications in the queue, and I am really not thrilled about the idea of having to hard reset my otherwise rock-solid device just to fix this infuriating problem. I started Outlook 2003 on the desktop with the “/cleanreminders” switch to rebuild the reminders, made sure it was synced up with my Exchange account, and then synced the PDA. None of that helped.
I don’t understand why reminders continue to be such a problem for Windows Mobile devices. This is such a basic thing that even $15 electronic organizers get right — reliably — and I just can’t comprehend how devices this advanced can get so very wrong.
I’ll post again if I find a solution to this which doesn’t involve a hard reset, but it’s looking like that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. I’m in a position to make device recommendations to users and problems like this make it extremely difficult to recommend Windows Mobile devices. Imagine having to tell your boss that the reason he missed his meeting with his boss is because his handheld can’t show reminders reliably.