You know you were on a bad flight when…

This morning I woke up to check my email after travelling 16 hours yesterday to my destination only to find the following email in my inbox:

On behalf of all of us at XXXX Airlines, I want to take this opportunity to reach out to you regarding Flight XXX on October 24th.

I realize how alarming it can be to experience unexpected turbulence during a flight such as you encountered during your travel from Tokyo. Please know that XXXX utilizes some of the best technology available to help ensure smooth air for our customers. Even so, turbulence can at times be unforeseen and simply unavoidable. Our crew used their experience and training to ensure the situation stabilized and that everyone was comfortable as the flight continued to XXXXX. I can certainly appreciate any concern and anxiety you may have felt personally or on behalf of others. Thank you for your understanding of this unusual in-flight event.

Whether in the air or on the ground, our priority is keeping our customers and our people safe. And while safety is at the core of our business and the foundation of everything we do, we are equally committed to service. We welcome an early opportunity to better serve your travel needs in the near future.

I guess as a seasoned traveller I take turbulence for granted but it must have been really bumpy for that email to be sent (oh and of course the paramedics did have to board at disembarkation to help some passengers with wounds, so yeah,  it was probably serious).

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Why Yahoo! never made it too far

Disclaimer: I am not a programmer. I did a bit of programming in college and I “dabble” occasionally. I by no means consider myself hard core but the following might assume I think I am.

We all know the hype of IE9 right? It’s the latest and greatest out of the halls of Redmond. They’re suggesting for all of us to upgrade and try it out and see for ourselves it’s the best thing since sliced bread. OK, I took the plunge, I upgraded just like many others will – in order to try it out as well as try to be ahead of the IT curve, in such a case I get asked any questions.

Today, I took my browser to Yahoo! Answers because Bing told me it would have the answer to the question I was looking for. I got there and Yahoo! told me IE9 wasn’t a new enough browser and I should upgrade:

yahoo-answers-upgrade-ie

What’s even more comedical is when I click on the Upgrade Now link, in lieu of taking me anywhere it takes me to a page that says:

yahoo faux paux 2

Yep, that’s right. IE8 isn’t available for my system. So, three learning experiences we need to teach Yahoo! in order to get them up to speed:

1. When testing for browser compatibility your programmers might want to use $browser >= $version and not just hard code specific versions

2. P.S. I’m running Windows 7 which runs IE 8 fine although you don’t seem to think so

3. IE8 is not ONLY available for XP, Vista and Server 2008. It comes bundled with Windows 7 which makes it available for that OS too (see number 2 above).

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Spring, Samsung, Google and WinMo

I use Sprint for my cellular service like many other Americans. It’s reliable, it’s fairly inexpensive, it has an unlimited data plan and, well it works (I won’t mention friends and colleagues who love their fruit machines, but can never get them to work due to the network, but alas that’s another story). When I initially signed up for service I thought I’d try something new, something different. For that, I opted for the Samsung Moment:

samsung moment

pretty sleek device, had a QWERTY keyboard and overall looked and felt nice. Over time it had some issues (airplane mode, upgrading from 1.5 to 2.1, being s-l-o-w and sometimes non-responsive) but nothing too drastic that the ole IT cure all (turn it off and back on again) couldn’t fix.

Well, with TechEd Berlin coming up, I’ve got to go to Berlin to speak which means going overseas. Sprint for those of you who don’t know run on a CDMA network and 99% of their phones are CDMA. What does this mean? Well, it means that their phones won’t work overseas, so there goes the moment out the window. So, being a Microsoft MVP and one who is always sticking up for their technology and software I pushed out the boat and had them issue me an Intrepid:

Search-Bing-via-Voice-on-Samsung-Intrepid-2

Runs Windows Mobile 6.5 and so far, not too bad. Now that I’ve got the history out of the way, here is the intent of the article. The Moment versus the Intrepid or essentially Android versus Windows Mobile.

Andriod

At first I wasn’t sure I’d like it as Google makes you log in to the device and their primary goal no matter what anyone says is that they want to track you and use your information to their advantage. It’s their business model. So, no gmail account, no phone services (or limited ones at that). However, once that was past, it was a pretty streamlined experience. I can’t say it was perfect but it was good. The default OS seemed to work ok, it had functionality and worked pretty well. However, I never ended up getting a full day’s battery out of the phone at normal use and I can only equate that to the OS.

As for the breadth of applications, not too shabby, however this is where they need some work. The Android Marketplace is at best a Moroccan Bazaar. No quality control, no real information, just put your app up here and we’ll help tout it to the Androidians (that’s my new name for those who use Android).

Windows Mobile

After the first few days of having the Intrepid, I found it pretty straightforward and easy to use, however I missed the bigger screen. The keypad on the Intrepid wasn’t as nice either, but that’s not really an OS drawback/feature, but it’s noticeable. Now, back to the OS. I will say Google seemed to trump Windows Mobile 6.5 here as when I click the start menu on my Windows Mobile I get some strange fandangled layout of applications which reminds me of some tetris like game on Xbox. You can’t rearrange them, you can’t ABC order them, you can only send to top and hope for the best. Mail however works a treat and the battery life allows me to have a full day of work on the phone without needing to reach for my charger. The Windows Marketplace too seems much more streamlined and groomed compared to that of the Android Market, however my concern with the WM Marketplace is pre-requisite checking. Bing has an app that requires special resolution, however it doesn’t say that anywhere and not until after I downloaded it and the .cab tried to install itself did it error out telling me I had an incompatible device. These kinds of things should be checked prior to download or even better yet WinMo, don’t show me them if my device is uncapable.

Summary

In short (I know I didn’t do too much comparison, but I like to keep these articles below 1000 words), they’re both good solid devices. I will say I feel more productive with my Intrepid Windows Mobile device but knew I had more “fun” options with my Moment. I have a full days battery life with the WinMo, but had more of the community behind the apps on the Android. All in all, if Windows Phone 7 Series is more crafted and well refined these two players, Android and Windows Mobile could easily take back some of the market that Apple has had the stronghold on for some time now and the competitionwill only make the devices strive for betterdom in the long run.

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Bytes by TechNet

If you missed TechEd North America this year, they launched a new initiative called Bytes by TechNet. I was lucky enough to get interviewed by Keith Combs from TechNet…Check out the interview here:

Alternatively find the entire interview on TechNet here

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The mobile (cell) business is hotting up

For those of you eagerly awaiting the Windows Phone 7 Series, the other mobile industry news must be quite interesting as well. What is it I’m taking about or referring to? Well, let’s take a look at two big stories around the mobile industry over the past 24/48 hours:

Android sales overtake the fruit machine. Yep you read it right, the good ‘ole iPhone just isn’t as good as it once was. Proof that you can’t rest on your laurels. – http://gigaom.com/2010/08/02/android-sales-overtake-iphone-in-the-u-s/

– BlackBerry traffic to be outlawed in Saudi. Hmm, that’s an interesting one. Does that mean that all data type traffic will be outlawed or is this a target at RIM only? Read more here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-10860491

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Sorry I’ve been OOF for a while

For those of you that like acronyms, apologies, but I’ve been OOF as of late. OOF is a term usually found in email which stems back to the original mail system days when someone was Off Of Facility or Out Of Facility. Many people commonly mistake it with OOO which is the newer spin on Out Of Office, however for us hardcore techies, OOF will never die.

None the less, to make (or try to keep) a long story short, I’m back in business and should be blogging more soon!

Watch this space :)

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Reflections of a Bus Trip

It’s been almost one month since my last blog post and for that I apologize. For those of you who know me will know that I was on a bus for two weeks down the entire east coast of the USA followed by a week at TechEd and then a two week stint (back again) in Montreal.

Flying home from Montreal, I’ve had the chance to reflect on it all and I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences with you Smile

Everyone asks, how was the bus trip. Most one word verbs could easily describe it…Exhausting, fun, tiring, busy, stressful, intense, hard work…the list could go on and on. In the end though I could easily sum it up with the phrase “an experience of a lifetime”.

We met over 3,000 IT Professionals from various walks of life all with differing jobs and backgrounds. Ones that manage environments with 10 computers to those in charge of over 10,000 devices. Some had cloud services implemented, some still had Exchange 2003. Many of them ran Office 2003 and most of them still were hanging on to Windows XP, but wondering how to magically get to Windows 7. Lots wanted to know about the idiosyncrasies of Office 2010, while others were more interested in seeing how to deploy a new OS.

In the end, I hope most of them learned something new or took something away from the stops we made along the way. I know each city challenged me in thinking “outside the box” and also gave me a completely new perspective on the same tasks I do every day and for that I thank them.

If you didn’t know about the bus tour, here are some of the highlights of it. We had a videographer with us so we could capture the best bits of each city, and of course on the overlapping weekend, we had some fun too. If asked to do it again, would I? I’m not sure, but I can strongly say if you’re ever given the opportunity to do something like this, don’t think twice and jump on it immediately.

If you talked to us along the way, leave your comments. If you didn’t see us, here’s just some of what you missed!

DSCF1176DSCF1184DSCF1199IMAGE_078

Get Microsoft Silverlight

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Windows UI Wierdness

The User Interface (UI) in Windows is more friendly than ever now that Windows 7 has been released. Furthermore, it syncs and matches that of the Windows 2008 R2 interface, so if you know your way around one, you can easily navigate between the two. I’ve been doing loads of work with both lately on laptops, and I came across a strange thing and thought hmph and was wondering what you thought…

Try this for yourself and then ask, “Why is that in the UI”?

Click on start and type “power set”.  It should come up with change battery settings:

power-settings

When that window comes up, simply click on “Change plan settings”. My example screen shows my machine on the balanced setting, yours may vary:

change plan settings

That will bring up the basic options/settings for the specified power plan. On that screen, click “Change advanced power settings”:

change advanced settings

Now you’ve got the advanced settings open, expand the battery section and then expand “low battery level” for example (you could also choose critical battery level):

low battery level

OK, so is it me, or why is there a plugged in percentage in the UI? If I hover over it the tool tip reads:

Percentage of battery capacity remaining that indicates the low battery action

which is all fine, but can you tell me, if I’m connected to a power supply (a.k.a. plugged in), how can my battery be diminishing it’s power and how will I ever see it “drop” below a certain percentage?

UI flaw?

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Want a free copy of Microsoft Office?

Marketing…Design…It’s all about getting your name out there and your brand recognized. Well it seems quite a few people know what a copy of Microsoft Office looks like. Average retail price of Office, depending on the version is ballpark $100 (ish). Some engineers decided to see how much this $100 was worth to the average passer-by. They took an Office box and put an alarm in it to see how many people would try and pick it up, and of course when they did pick it up, the joke was on them.  Have a look for yourself :)

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Sirius Travel doesn’t seem to serious about updates

Technology is all around us. 10 years ago, we had modems and BBS systems, today everyone connects everything with their mobile phone, with a 3G (or 4G card) and our data lives in the cloud. It’s no wonder the satellite radio phenomena is growing at an increasing pace. So much so Ford includes it in all cars. Not only does it include satellite radio, but they’ve also started bundling a service called “Travel Link”. Good news is you get it free for 6 months, bad news is, it doesn’t work, or by the time it does, it’s too late.  Here is an example…

According to their website:

Q. How often is the traffic information updated?

A. Traffic data is updated every 1.5 minutes.

OK, so if I’m stuck in traffic for over 10 minutes, that 1.5 minute interval should have hit, right?  Well, have a look at these photos:

2010-05-05 16.28.57

If you click on the photo, you’ll see the emergency board read:

Accident ahead…expect long delays

Now, by this point, I had been stuck in traffic for 10 minutes (as noted above), so I figured, let’s check Sirius Travel Link. What did it have to say?

2010-05-05 16.29.18

Yep, you’ve read it right:

There are no reported traffic incidents along the route.

Further, I was stuck in traffic for another 20 minutes and it never reported any problems on the road whatsoever.

So, what is the conclusion I’ve come to? Yep, I’d rather spend the $5.99 on a beer than give them money to tell me there isn’t traffic problems when there clearly is. Looks like there is some more testing to do boys, either that or maybe figure out that the updates really aren’t every 1.5 minutes like your FAQ says.

[editors note] – I’ve left the names of the photos the exact times they were taken (2010-05-05 16.28.57 and 2010-05-05 16.29.18 respectively) to show that there’s no photoshopping or foul play involved. The technology doesn’t do what it says it is charging you for.

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