All Articles by George Ponder | Windows Central

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All Articles by George Ponder

If you've checked your Windows Phone 7.5 device for the 7.8 update with no success, you may want to try to force the process, just as we did with other Windows Phone updates like Mango.

This is a little different than downloading and installing Windows Phone 7.8 manually, which we reported on earlier. With this method you're basically tricking the Microsoft servers to recognize your Windows Phone and initiating the update early. Think of it as cutting in line (and Microsoft is okay with this, no worries).

The other benefit with this method (versus the CAB one) is it means you are getting the official carrier/OEM update that usually includes the firmware too. If using just CABs you are updating the OS but not any device specific software. That's not a bad thing but it's really not ideal. 

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It's a little early but Skulls of the Shogun is now live in the Windows Phone Store.

Due to be released tomorrow, January 30th, the newest Xbox title not only breaks the drought of Xbox game releases but also spans the full gaming spectrum with versions for Windows 8/RT and Xbox Live Arcade as well as for Windows Phone 8 and 7.x.

With the release comes special pricing as well. The Windows Phone version is discounted to $4.99, the Windows 8 version will run your $9.99 and the Xbox Live Arcade version launches at 1200 Microsoft Point (about $15).

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It's a natural fit for February's Windows Phone Photo Challenge theme to be "love".  With Valentine's Day right around the corner you are challenged to submit a photo that captures the emotion of love.

For those not familiar, Microsoft sponsors a "bragging rights" photo contest each month with a particular theme. Just snap a photo with your Windows Phone based on the theme and if you win Microsoft will share the photo on their Windows Phone Blog, in their newsletter, and share it on their Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest pages.

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Beem Plus is a Windows Phone music app that allows users to tap into Digitally Imported music sites and stream various EDM radio stations to their Windows Phones. The DI.FM client was updated the other day to version 1.5 to address a handful of bugs, tweak performance and now supports Last.fm scrobbling.  

Scrobbling is basically the system building a profile based on the music you play regularly and makes recommendations based on that profile. With the update, you no longer need to have a specific track name written in your notebook, instead just have it listed in your "Recently Played" table. You can either perform manual scrobbling by tapping the sharing button above the heart (in the station player) or enable auto-scrobbling where, for each opened station, the current track details will be automatically sent to your Last.fm account.

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One of the many features on the Chase Mobile app for your Windows Phone 8 device is QuickDeposit. This is where you take a photo of your check to make the deposit.

Well... there was a bug in this feature that created a conflict and stored the check image in your Pictures Hub. Chase pulled the app and would eventually put the app back on the Windows Phone Store shelve with the QuickDeposit feature disabled.

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Gibbage Cases were supposed to be a new 3D printed cases for the HTC 8X Windows Phone and eventually for the Nokia Lumia 920. The cases were uniquely designed mainly to offer surface protection to the 8X and 920 from scratches. Plus they are kinda cool looking.

We were slated to receive a review unit here shortly but just got the news from the Gibbage Case creator that he's having to cancel any orders and halt production due to apparent quality control issues with his printing service, Shapeways.

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XIMAD's fun and games for your Windows Phone

There are a handful of Windows Phone developers out there that offer a diverse portfolio of apps and games. XIMAD, Inc qualifies as such with offerings ranging from children's books to bible apps to games.

XIMAD has had a presence in the Windows Phone Store from early on (back when we called it a Marketplace) and for this week's roundup, we'll concentrate on the gaming aspects of their collection. Most of XIMAD's games are free but for those who want to drop the ad banners, there's often a paid premium version available.

The XIMAD collection of games are often on the simple side as far as game play is concerned but challenging and entertaining nonetheless and nice ways to pass the time with. There's even a few that will get you hooked into playing a little longer.  We picked a handful that we think you might like and if we've missed your favorite XIMAD title, feel free to share in the comments.

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We just got our hands on the new Verizon Samsung ATIV Odyssey and it makes a nice first impression. The Windows Phone has a familiar feel to it that reminds us of the Samsung Focus 2 or maybe a thicker version of the original Samsung Focus.  The ATIV Odyssey joins the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 822 on Verizon's Windows Phone lineup.

The 4" Super AMOLED Screen looks nice and the Odyssey feels comfortable in the hand. The Windows Phone is powered by a 2100Mah battery and driven by a 1.5Ghz Dual Core CPU. Add NFC support and a 5MP rear camera and the ATIV Odyssey comes across as a decent mid-level Windows Phone.  The only downside that jumps off the paper is the Odyssey only has 8GB of storage. However it does have a microSD expansion slot and while 8GB may not sound too great, memory shouldn't be an issue.

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JDB Pocketware, developers of HandyScan, has a new Windows Phone app over in the Windows Phone Store. Social Scout is a Facebook Places app designed to help you explore what's nearby, find places, check-in and find out where your Facebook friends are.

While not developed or owned by Facebook, Social Scout taps into Facebook Places and lays out everything rather nicely across pages that show what places are nearby, where your friends have checked into, and a More Page that lists your most visited places, your check-ins, a "Feeling lucky" tile that will randomly select a restaurant for you to try, and a one touch check-in tile.

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Need to renew your Xbox Live membership? Looking to start an Xbox Live membership? Just want to save some bucks on an Xbox Live membership? Buy.com is offering a 12 month Gold Membership subscription to Xbox Live for $34.99.

The twelve month subscription normally runs about $60 and even if you still have months left on your existing membership, this deal will save you money down the road.

Just make sure you choose "budget shipping" when you check out. This will save you the $3.99 shipping cost for the card. We aren't sure how long this deal will last but you can find all the fine print on the Xbox Live Gold Membership deal here at Buy.com.

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Windows Phone developer, Ronny Gydar, is normally busy working on his various Windows Phone apps that includes Trine's Hangman and People Search. But this past weekend he and a few friends spent some time on the slopes.

Skiing on Sled Dogs snow skates, Ronny captured the footage using his Nokia Lumia 920 and not only is it impressive watching these guys fly downhill on such small skates but the 920's performance isn't too shabby either.  Ronny said the biggest challenge may have been simply holding on to his Lumia 920 while skiing.  He's using a silicone skin case that required both hands to maintain a firm grip on the Windows Phone.  He's since vowed to find a more rugged case so he concentrate more on the skiing and get away with holding his Lumia 920 with one hand.

While the audio isn't the best (racing down hill does generate a little wind noise), you can barely notice any bounce with the Lumia 920's image stabilization. I'm guessing the flashes of light in the footage is snow reflecting off the Lumia 920's light as it impacts the lens.

All in all, the footage is yet more testimony to the benefit image stabilization gives the Lumia 920.

Thanks, Ronny, for sharing the video!

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Lets Golf 2 is a popular Xbox Windows Phone game that has evidently had some installation issues with Windows Phone 8 devices. Issues that caused the installation process to crash leaving Windows Phone 8 users in the club house.

Whatever the issue, Gameloft has found the bug, squashed it and now Lets Golf 2 can be installed without problems on your Windows Phone 8 devices. We've successfully installed the game on both the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X. However, the 8X took a significantly longer time to install (over five minutes).

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If you're in the mood for watching a movie but can't decide what to watch, give Movielator a try. The Windows Phone app was recently released to the Store and will randomly pull up movie titles as suggestions on what to watch.  The results are based on genre or you can just randomly generate recommendations across the board from all genres.

Movielator will generate a selection of twelve movie titles that you can read a short synopsis of to help you narrow down your search. The app reminds me of those food apps that generate random recipes or resturaunts when you just can't decide what you're in the mood for.

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Last week Microsoft asked you to vote for which Windows Phone commercial from NFL Quarterback Cam Newton should air during the NFC Championship pre-game show. You had the choice of four endings to the commercial using a different catch phrase at the end.

The "Peanut Butter, Jelly" version, shown above was the runner-up and will air during both the NFC and AFC Championship games.

If you're the type who would rather tune in this Sunday, January 21st, during the pre-Game show and see which version won, don't stray any further. If you can't stand the anticipation, you can find the winning version after the break.

Still think they should have had a War Eagle version....

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Windows Phone Central's Roundup of New+Rising Games

Sure... you can use your Windows Phone for checking email, making phone calls, taking pictures, and other productive activities. But it's also a great device to play games on.

Couldn't really come up with a good theme for this week's Windows Phone Central Roundup so I decided to pick a few games from the New+Rising list over at the Windows Phone Store.

No rhyme or reason as to which titles made it to the roundup and if you've stumbled across a new Windows Phone game you'd like to recommend, sound off in the comments.

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HelpBridge is a new Windows Phone app from Microsoft that is designed to help you get through times of emergency and find resources to help those in need.

You'll have to create a HelpBridge account based on your Facebook or Microsoft Account. As you create your account, you add emergency contacts that you can contact when you need help or just to let them know you're alright. When you do reach out for help or let everyone know your okay, the app will send a brief message and map of your location via email, sms to your contact group and there's even a way to post the message on Facebook.

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Wheel of Wealth is a popular, turn based (both local and online) Windows Phone game that is modeled after the Wheel of Fortune games. You spin the wheel of wealth to determine your earnings for guessing the correct letters in a word puzzle.  You play against up to two opponents,or against the phone, in a three round game.

Wheel of Wealth was recently updated to version 2.6 to resolve a nasty bug that crashed the game when you went bankrupt. You can still lose all your money but that should be all that is lost. The update also fixes a few other bugs and throws in a few performance tweaks for good measure.

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This is a rather interesting way to test the sturdiness of the Nokia Lumia 920. One that sports fans may find on the appealing side.

Pitted against the Samsung Galaxy S3, the two smartphones attempted to play catch with a fastball shot out of a pitching machine. The Samsung didn't fair to well, shattering the case and screen on impact.

The Lumia 920, on the other hand, performed like a Major Leaguer.  The video captured the fastball impact and continued to record after being knocked off the stand. The screen survived and the casing was left unscathed.

I wonder how the Lumia 920 would have faired if it were strapped to a bat?

Source: NokiaUS Youtube via: wmpoweruser

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