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(Not so) Patiently Waiting for Mango

As all good tech junkies know, the anticipation of new technology is almost as rewarding as the arrival of the new tech goodies. I have been a user of WP7 since the first day it was available from TELUS, and I am very much looking forward to the new features of WP7 Mango. I haven’t heard any definitive dates, but now that we are into September, and it is supposed to hit the update cycle in the fall of 2011, it feels like it could be anytime now.

Beyond this software upgrade, I really want to see what Nokia has up there sleeves this year and next with new hardware. As much as I like my HTC Surround 7, I would like a device with a better screen, a thinner, lighter form factor and perhaps more memory.

With the passing of summer, my attention definitely turns to technology (and football).


My MacBook Scared the Crap Out of Me,

or how I learned all of us can be technologically challenged.

I consider myself to be quite tech literate, and most of my family and friends would agree that I have a good handle or computers, phones, networking, etc. They often rely on me as their first line of tech support when something goes wrong, or they need advice on a new acquisition, so it is with a humble spirit that I post this blog.

It started on Christmas night, as I watched an episode of “The Wire” (IMHO the best TV series of all times) on my MacBook Pro, sleep started to creep up on me. I decided to retire to my bed to watch the remainder of the episode while lying comfortably in the warmth of my bedding.

Some hours later, I awoke to realize that I hadn’t seen more than a few minutes of the show before I had fallen asleep, and that the screen beside me was now blank. Believing it to have simply gone to sleep, I closed the lid on the MacBook, set it aside and drifted back to sleep.

The next morning I awoke fully rested, and ready to enjoy a relaxing Boxing Day, determined to avoid any form of Boxing Day sales and relish some of the leftovers from our wonderful Christmas dinner.

To start the day I thought I would complete watching "The Wire” episode I had slumbered through. I flipped open my laptop, expecting it to spring to life as it always had, only to be greeted by a blank screen. Thinking that I must have actually turned it off in my sleep induced haze, I pushed the power button. No joy. It made no sound, it showed no apple logo, it showed no sign of life.

Starting to mildly panic, I pulled on a pair of sweat pants and wandered downstairs to plug my dead machine into the power outlet and revive it with a fresh jolt of electricity. The MagSafe power connector snicked into place, but the comforting orange/green LED light did not come on. Panic growing stronger, I checked my power bar, yes it was turned on, yes there were two white power plugs attached to the bar, there should be power running to my MacBook.

Why wasn’t it turning on?

Had I burned something out?

Had it overheated?

Had my precious laptop gone to the great electronic graveyard in the sky only six months after being born (delivered by FedEx)?

My next course of action was to do what every good technician does, I fired up my desktop (homebuilt computer running Windows 7) and I googled it.

I found nothing that sounded like my symptoms, but I did try several different key combinations; to restart the computer (control key, the command key, and the power button simultaneously and hold for three seconds); to reset the PRAM (pressing the power button, hold down these keys simultaneously: Command-Option-P-R); to reset the SMC (Left Shift-Control-Option along with the power button once). None of these actions produced the slightest bit of activity in the dead laptop.

Thinking I now had no choice but to book an appointment at the Genius Bar in Vancouver and be without my laptop for a number of weeks, I was growing more despondent. Unable to even admit to my wife that my pricey toy prematurely met its’ end, I spent the next couple of hours cleaning up around the house from the previous days frivolities and only retired back to my den after the house was once again ship shape.

Deciding to give troubleshooting one last chance, I started at the wall and traced the power cord to the power bar, green led glowing, so power was getting to the outlet. The MagSafe connector was firmly in place, and there was no lint or scrap of paper hindering the connection. The cable was firmly connected to the inline Apple power brick. Following the cord back to the power bar, I came to a sudden discovery!

The cord from the brick to the power bar was not plugged in!!

While there were two white cords plugged into the power bar, neither one of them was the plug from my laptop power connector.

The plug had slid under the pedestal of my desk and looked like it travelled to the power bar, but in fact, it was not plugged in. I jammed the plug in, hit the power button on the laptop.

Magically, the SSD stirred to life, the LCD flashed me the Apple, and all was once again right in my world.

My relief was tainted with embarrassment as I admitted to myself that the last few hours of grief were entirely due to my own incompetence. I had failed to follow my first law of tech support.


After One Day…

with my new HTC Surround I can honestly say it is the best phone I have ever used. The activation was extremely easy, and the way it automatically synced with everything in my Live ID was astounding. I simply entered my Live email address and password, and the next thing I know, the phone came to life, adding all of my contacts (over 1,400), my calendar, all my online photos and documents from Skydrive. I then added two more email address, work and my personal address from Shaw Cable.

Navigation between functions is effortless, and after a little juggling around of tiles, I have all of the most used functions at the top of my Start Screen. The phone is incredibly responsive, and far easier to use than my blackberry storm. The version of Office makes reviewing and changing documents a breeze, and OneNote syncs automatically through my Live ID.

The only challenge I have had is that when plugging in to my desktop, the phone isn’t always recognized by Zune software and I have had to turn the phone off and back on, while connected to have Zune see it.

I may have more thoughts later, but this phone truly rocks.

Today is the Day …. I get my Win Phone 7

About an hour from now I will be stopping off at our cell phone suppliers store to pick up my HTC Surround 7. I have already been through Paul Thurrott’s “Getting Ready for Win Phone 7” blog post and have my Live ID setup and fully configured. I am really looking forward to turning it on, plugging in my ID and watching the device populate with my information.

The Blackberry Storm that I have been using is going to be past on to my son, as his current LG phone is falling apart from being dropped about a thousand times. I don’t believe he will like it much as he texts constantly, and the touch screen keyboard on the Storm is a pain to use. It only has to last him for about six months until his contract expires and then he can choose something that will better suite his needs.

I’ll post my thoughts after I have the phone and get a little accustomed to how it operates.

Thoughts on Apple Announcements of Oct 20th.

In a word – underwhelming.

I was hoping for more, especially regarding the next version of OS X. I am very surprised that Steve Jobs acted like Steve Ballmer out on the stage today and tried to sell vapourware. There was nothing within the upgrades to OS X that were remotely compelling, and none of it, with the exception of the App Store, is available for 10 – 11 months … maybe.

I have come to expect Microsoft to pre-announce products, as they learned from IBM, but Apple has historically wanted to create a marketing buzz and excitement about their products by keeping them very secret until the last minute, announcing them with huge fanfare, and delivering them almost immediately. This move reeks of fear that they may be losing their magic. Windows 7 continues to exceed expectations and Android is outselling the iPhone. This looks like an attempt by Steve Jobs to turn up the voltage on the RDF to keep the Mac faithful in line.

The other product announcements did no better at wetting my appetite. The iLife upgrades are nice, but are simply incremental improvements to already good products. The $49.00 upgrade price  isn’t bad, but I’m not sure yet whether I will pull the trigger.

The MacBook Air has always seemed to me to be the ultimate Apple product that exemplified form over function … and at a very high cost. Nothing in the announcement today changed my mind. The specs are underwhelming and the price is too high for what you get, unless you just have to have the cool factor of having the nicest designed netbook on the block.

Please Steve, don’t let this be a sign of things to come from your company. I love my MacBook Pro, and I really enjoy my iPod Touch, both of which were new purchases this year, but I have come to expect more from your announcements in both quality of substance of the product.

Time to get off the Blackberry Train

I have to finally admit that it is time to ditch my blackberry phone and move into the next generation of smart phones. The blackberry (mine is a Storm version 1) phones have been left behind by the iPhone, android and now the new Windows Phone 7.

In my view, RIM has rested on their laurels while the the world moved on and created phones that now make a blackberry look antiquated. RIM may continue to be a player in the enterprise, and even in some of the less developed countries in the world, but they missed the boat with OS6 and their handsets are woefully uninteresting.

My next phone will likely be an HTC 7 Surround, as this is the nicest Windows Phone 7 handset available on the Telus Mobility network that I am tied to for the next two years. Hopefully it becomes available soon.

I have already set up my Windows Live ID and exported all of my contacts and calendar from Outlook 2010 into the Live ID. The only grief was having to delete about 100 contacts to get below the 1,500 limit imposed by Windows Live, and some formatting issues, that caused some contacts to continually be copied between my blackberry and the Windows Live upon syncing.

I’ve even ordered a copy of Paul Thurrott’s new book Windows Phone 7 Secrets to make sure I get the most out of this phone.

Anyone want to buy a used Blackberry? It is going cheap.

Upgrade to WordPress

After receiving the email from the Windows Live Spaces Team that they were going to be removing the Blog Spaces feature in early 2011, I decided to take the plunge and “Upgrade” to WordPress (Upgrade was Microsoft’s word). The process was relatively painless, although I have not yet been able to get LastPass to work with the WordPress login process.


The automated process copied in my previous Post from Windows Live Space and attempted to setup Windows Writer to work directly with the new WordPress site. Writer seems to connect OK, but it attempted to download the WordPress Themes and was not able to, so it informed me I would not be able to see the Themes when writing new posts in Writer. Hard to know if this is good or bad, as I can’t see what it was supposed to look like.


Anyway, here goes my first attempt at posting in WordPress.