January 2008


Windows Mobile Calendar Weirdness: Outlook Overrides Smartphone Changes

This Windows Mobile Calendar problem happens all the time to me ever since Microsoft removed the two-way conflict resolution option. Here’s the scenario.

1. Create an appointment on a WiMo smartphone

2. Sync it to Outlook 2003 (or 2007)

3. After syncing, edit the appointment and change it to a different day (i.e., reschedule it)

4. Resync it with Outlook

In my case, the rescheduled appointment is removed and replaced with the original appointment from Outlook. Really annoying.

Mobile Devices
Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Smartphone
Windows Mobile

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Why Do US Cell Phone Companies Hate Text Messages?

An article over on ABCnews.com talks about the high cost of text messaging and calculates some interesting comparisons based on AT&T Wireless’ upcoming increased charge of 20 cents per text message and 30 cents per MMS message. Based on the assumption of a cost of 1 cent for every 7 bytes (characters), AT&T’s text messaging will cost about $1,500 per megabyte. Sure, you can pay for an unlimited text message plan. But, how many people require unlimited text messages.

Why does AT&T charge so much for text messaging? Does it really take that much to manage and maintain the service? Do they hate text messaging and only keep it alive because they are forced to? And, they are not alone…

Let’s look at another US mobile carrier: Sprint PCS. Sprint is in big trouble. They are bleeding customers losing 100,000 subscribers in the last quarter alone and recently laid off 4,000 workers (see this PC World article for details). Their basic plan provides something 5 or 7 (or some other really small number) of free text messages per month. You jump from single digits to 300 messages per month for a $5 monthly charge. 1000 messages bumps the cost to $10/month. And, unlimited is $15/month. Here’s a free tip for Sprint’s new CEO. Want to reduce your customer churn rate? Give them something of value that doesn’t cost you much. Reduce your text messaging rates. 300/month for free, 1000 a month for $5/month. Unlimited for $10/month. This will make parents more likely to let their kids text a bit more freely. Next, get some cooler looking phones to appeal to the younger crowd directly. Reduce the new phone cycle from full discount every two years to annually. Kids ask for new phones all the time. Parents (like me) might be more likely to replace them on an annual cycle if they were fully discounted.

Text messaging is probably on the tail end of its life cycle curve. The richer mobile presence services, like Twiter, Jaiku, and Pownce, that depend on packet (Internet) services will probably send text messaging off to visit its older cousin the venerable pager within the next couple of years. But, in the meantime, cell phone companies could probably retain customers and reduce churn by being competitive in provide text message services.

Mobile Devices
Mobile Phones

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The Mysteries of Windows Mobile Battery Problems

batterymeter.gif

Of all the problems a Windows Mobile smartphone might have, battery problems rank somewhere in the top three if not number one. Why? If your battery dies at an inopportune time, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the phone is, you have a paper weight. Having a spare always helps, of course, but the battery itself may not be the problem.

Even though we know that rechargeable batteries have a finite life, I have been surprised to see just how long some of my Windows CE/Windows Mobile device batteries have lasted. While all my Compaq Aero and iPAQs have broken before their batteries pooped out, my HP Jornada devices which date back to 1996 all still work (well, perhaps, except for the HP420, the first color Palm-size PC). The HP Jornada 720 and 820 Handheld PCs still work fine and their respective batteries still retain a charge for many hours of use. Those HP Jornada engineers were just amazing folks.

A while back my T-Mobile Dash battery problem turned out not to be hardware based at all. The problem was that Google Gmail’s IMAP4 server is so slow that it cause the battery to drain 4% everytime Windows Mobile Messaging checks for email. Turning off auto email checking for Gmail restored my battery life.

Lately, I’ve been having battery problems with my HTC Advantage 7500 Pocket PC Phone Edition. This is surprising to me since the battery has been rock solid until the past two weeks or so. Long term WiFi use along with simultaneous Bluetooth keyboard use didn’t seem to phase it in the good ol’ days. So, what changed? I don’t think the battery itself is a problem. Why? I’ve noticed other odd issues with the 7500 during this same time period. It sometimes locks up (won’t turn on) and requires a stylus press of the soft reset buttons. The battery itself is fine during these episodes. I also noticed that both still photos and video recordings have odd artifacts in them during this period. The battery itself seems to love a charge over a short period when NOT in use: WiFi turned off, Bluetooth turned off, GSM/EDGE turned off (I use a T-Mobile Dash as my voice phone).

So, what is going on? I honestly don’t know. But, I’m thinking about either performing a hard reset or upgrading the 7500 to Windows Mobile 6 this weekend to see if that clears up some of the problems I’m seeing.

I wish we had better end-user diagnostic tools to help us dig into these problems with a bit more precision.

Mobile Devices
Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Smartphone
Windows Mobile

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iZoho: Zoho Web Office Suite for the iPhone/iPod touch

iZoho

Cool sites designed specifically for the iPhone (and by side effect the iPod touch) just keep on coming. I’ve been using the Zoho Creator web database product for almost a month now because it works well both on the desktop as well as mobile devices (not just the iPhone). However, Zoho created a very nice iPhone specific interface found at:

iZoho.com

As you can see above, it looks and works fine on an iPod touch too. I hope that new Microsoft VP for Windows Mobile marketing is paying attention to all of this. Designers for major websites essentially do not care if their mobile specific site works on a Windows Mobile smartphone at all. All the focus is on the iPhone. And, soon, the Google Android platform will probably draw from what little attention is left to Windows Mobile. Attention Redmond, it’s time to pay attention to the rest of the world, not just the carriers and large enterprises.

Apple
iPod
Mobile Devices

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Sync Windows Mobile with a Mac?

I installed Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac this weekend and have been giving some thought to syncing my Windows Mobile smartphone with a Mac instead of Windows XP (I have Vista running but don’t want to use WMDC). Unfortunately, all of the solutions have issues. Here are my options.

Sync my smartphone with Mac OS X’s iCal (calendar) and Address Book (contacts) using Missing Sync for Windows Mobile ($39.95 download). I believe I lose the ability to sync notes and tasks. And, I definitely can’t sync OneNote Mobile.

Sync my smartphone with Microsoft Entourage 2008 using,again, Missing Sync for Windows Mobile. Mark/Space said that Microsoft doesn’t provide a conduit/plug-in to work with Apple Sync Services. The effect of this is that all category information is lost (all categories are consolidated to the category “Entourage”). I use categories a lot. So, hmm. Everything except for OneNote Mobile should sync minus the category information.

Install Windows XP a virtualized Guest OS using either Parallels Desktop for Mac or VMware Fusion. This means I could install Microsoft Office for Windows along with OneNote Mobile. Unfortunately, VM virtual disk drives can take up a lot of disk space. Do, I really want to dedicate a VM and its associated disk space just for syncing a smartphone?

The last alternative is to dump Windows Mobile and buy a phone supported by Apple’s iSync. It is an interesting idea. But, I really like what Windows Mobile has to offer me (despite my disdain for ActiveSync and WMDC). So, that is not a reasonable alternative for me (although it seems to be a valid one for many other people).

If you are syncing a Windows Mobile 6 smartphone with a Mac, please let me know how your solution is working for you. Thanks in advance!

Apple
Mac
MacOSX
Mobile Devices
Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Smartphone
Windows Mobile

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FixMyMovie.com: Enhance Your CameraPhone Video Recordings

FixMyMovie.com

FixMyMovie.com uses the MotionDSP (which is funded by Q-Tel) video enhancement technology to enhance digital video. I uploaded a few seconds of video recorded by my T-Mobile Dash (Windows Mobile 6 smartphone) to see what it could do with the normally fuzzy video produced by this cameraphone. You can find my video test at: Test 1 walking. If you click on the compare button (middle of the five buttons below the video), it changes the display to full display mode and shows a side-by-side video comparison. You can also use the extracted still photo mode (like screen cap above) to compare the original and enhanced image.

I think it did a pretty good job of enhancing my cameraphone video. Couple of things to note though. First, it took quite a while to enhance the few seconds of video I uploaded. This is not surprising considering the amount of work that goes into video enhancemnet processing. However, if you upload a longer video, be sure to allow for sometime before you are able to see the results. The system will email you a notification when it is finished. Second, the service is free in its current beta release phase. However, there is no promise that this service will remain free.

My guess is that Google/YouTube, BiipTV, MSN Soapbox, or some other video site will buy or license this technology. It would probably help a lot of fuzzy videos like mine 🙂

Mobile Devices
Pocket PC/Phone Edition
Smartphone
Windows Mobile

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