It looks like somebody from the TSA has noticed all of the stories about batteries exploding and decided to do something about it. Of course, this being the TSA, “something” apparently means “introduce unnecessarily complex and bureaucratic policies that will mystify the average person.” Basically, the rules are thus: you can carry on spare batteries, but not check them. Except when you have too many batteries, where “too many” is determined by -- wait for it -- the number of grams of lithium content in your batteries. You can check batteries when they're installed, though, because why make things clear-cut?
Now, they do sort of try to make it clear that the vast majority of consumer-grade batteries are just fine, probably. Below, an excerpt from a not-too-distant interview before the law TSA:
Before the [Security Checkpoint] sits a gatekeeper. To this gatekeeper comes a man from the country who asks to gain entry into the [Security Checkpoint]. But the gatekeeper says that he cannot grant him entry at the moment. The man thinks about it and then asks if he will be allowed to come in later on. “It is possible,” says the gatekeeper, “but not now.”
We know, going straight to Kafka when complaining about bureaucracy is cliché, but he is the master. Happy new year, everybody, we're happy to ring it in with crazy new laws!
Well Golly - it looks like TDMA won't be the only thing to have its lights turned off next year - the Analog Cellular network is going too. I don't know which is crazier - the fact that folks are still using analog cell phones or the fact that this somewhat comforting fall-back technology is going away. AP suggests checking your grandma's emergency 911 cell phone (it might be analog), but that there's a very slim chance - 1% to be precise - that this will affect you or yours. That number is much higher if you have GM's OnStar in your vehicle - older OnStar-equipped cars use analog too.
Analog has long-been the more reliable option for rural areas and that may not change as quickly -- Alltel will take a bit longer to drop analog and some smaller carriers will keep it. Still and all - my first “cell” was analog and I still have a soft spot for the Ericsson.
Meanwhile, it reminds me of the first digital phone I got - I was told my multiple people that this “digital thing” was a phase. People want to hear your real voice, not some digitally de- and re-constructed facsimile. I, on the other hand, have always welcomed our digital overlords.
Ah, Treo 500, you arrived on a wave of crazy, mixed up “gandolf” rumors, landed with a splash, and were promptly washed away across the sea - we'd hoped you'd be available in the United States, but our hopes were dashed. Turns out, though, that though the Treo 500v is slightly underwhelming on paper, it's actually not to shabby in person. Great build quality and a relatively small price make it a modest success. Palm looks to capitalize on that modest success by offering it unlocked (instead of tied to Vodafone), according to Reg Hardware. It should happen sometime next year.
Good on Palm. Now, if they'd only make a version that would work in the United States (and bring back the ringer switch!), we'd be happy. During the TreoCast recording last week (and getting published soon-like), Mike suggested that such a move would help the 500v out in China. See, China requires miniUSB on all their cell phones .... and the Treo 500v is the only Treo (heck, the only anything) that charges via miniUSB. hmmmm.
AT&T is now switching their telephone directory service, 1-800-YellowPages (that's 1-800-935-5697), to ad-supported instead of cost-per-call. That's a good thing, we suppose, but we are reporting it here mainly to thumb our nose at, well, pretty much anybody not using a Windows Mobile Smartphone. See, we have Live Search, which is a stupendously awesome directory app that only costs whatever your data plan charges - i.e. nothing extra for most folks. Maps, Movies, Gas Prices, Restaurants, you name it.
“But WMExperts,” you say, “Typing in a search while you're driving is incredibly unsafe. Dialing into an ad-supported directory service is a much better idea.” You might be right, except that Live Search does voice recognition too. Oh, and GPS (for free). And you can even get it to do tower triangulation-style location with a little help from Navizon if you don't have GPS pre-loaded.
So, yeah, we still really like Live Search. Yes - someday it might have little ads of its very own, but that day is not here. So quit calling into directory services, start using your smartphone like god intended it.
AT&T has announced that its 1-800-YellowPages directory service is now available free of charge. The service is available on any landline or wireless phone in the United States, and offers directory lookup service for callers
So as a few of you may know, the Motorola Q Q9c on Sprint is the first Windows Mobile device on that network to have GPS enabled (throw your hand-made confetti in the air!). Not only is it enabled, but it is fully “open” meaning the COM Ports are visible to external programs, like Google Maps or the arguably superior Microsoft Live Search with Speech input (cue more confetti).
Interestingly, it appears that the GPS enabled on the device is only set for direct satellite connections--there are no connections to Sprint’s aGPS assistance servers. In this sense, the Moto Q9c’s GPS is more like a true-standalone unit. Good, right? Not really, it could be better.
One caveat: you need your MSL, which stands for "Master Subsidy Lock" and is a 6 digit code to program your phone. Remember when you called Sprint to activate your phone and they had your program in your number in that “special menu”? To get there you had to enter your MSL. Some of us tricksters now know to write that down for future use. But you probably haven’t done this, so here’s the trick: you need to call Sprint and get it. It’s technically not a big deal and are supposed to give it to you if you ask, after all it is your phone not theirs. So here are some things to say to the Sprint CSRs or better yet, try Tech Support:
Just ask, sometimes they give it. Worked for me!
Say you took your phone to a Sprint store and they need your MSL to reprogram part of the phone
Tell them that you are trying to change your user name within the settings on your phone and the phone is requiring the MSL code
Say you are developing application for the phone
Yeah, it’s a wee bit of a white lie, but it’s worth it. Now once you have that number, store it somewhere safe and remember to do this for all your WM devices in the future, you may never know when you need it.
One other note before the actual hack: you have to trust the settings are saved. If you go back into this menu, it’ll all be erased, but once entered it’ll stay. So have faith that they stuck.
And now for the trick and thanks again to StarmanDX!
Enable aGPS Sprint assistance servers for Moto Q Q9c
Hit Send/Green Key
Enter your MSL
Hit H (GPS Settings)
Enter 126.96.36.199 for the IP address
Enter 5017 for the port number
(ps Nope, I do not know how to do this for AT&T Q9h's or Verizon's Q9ms. Sorry, Sprint only!)
If you don't have threaded text on your Windows Mobile phone (and let's face it, you probably don't), using Twitter can be a pain sometimes. All these incoming and outgoing texts get to be a drain on your attention - not to mention your SMS bucket. Plus, really, sometimes you want an immediate SMS update regarding what your friend's friend is eating for dinner - but mostly you don't.
Enter Tiny Twitter, a really great mobile twitter client. It's built on .Net CF (for those of you on WM5) and elegantly pulls your Twitter feed into a single screen. It has options to directly message folks, auto-update as often as every 4 minutes (as the app says, “your choice”), and more. All in all, it's a clean, fast, good app. Recommended for twitter users.
We have been talking about developing technologies for offering massive storage for mobile devices for 2 ½ years now in the "Flash or HDD? That's the Question thread". Intel just announced a huge step in offering GBs for cell phones with their new Solid State Drive (SSD) that is smaller than penny and weighs less than a drop of water, according to their press release:
The tiniest in the industry, the Intel® Z-P140 PATA SSD is designed for ultra-small mobile internet devices, digital entertainment and embedded applications and is part of the proposed Intel “Menlow” platform. The Intel Z-P140 PATA SSD comes in 2 Gigabyte (GB) and 4GB densities, extendable to 16GB.
According to the Intel Product Brief this little SSD can hold its own with Read Throughput at 40 Megabytes / sec and Write Throughput at 30 Megabytes / sec and is tested with a Mean Time Between Failures at 2,500,000 hours (which if you are curious is 104,167 days... which is just over 285 years... which leads to... how in the heck did they come up with that?).
Today we are begging phone manufacturers to include at least 128 mb in any given phone and we willingly fall to our knees in praise when they put 256 mb of memory / storage in a phone. Could you imagine the reality of having somewhere between a 2 GB to 16 GB of internal memory / storage on a phone be commonplace? Because we here at WMExperts can (and do).
When is this really going to be a reality? I am not sure. The Intel Fact Sheet does not come out and say specifically, but it does alludes to the possibility that it will be released with their proposed Menlow platform, which will be released to manufacturers sometime during the first half of 2008. Though, again, it's not clear that that the Z-P140 PATA SSD will be included with this first generation release of the Intel Menlow platform.
All of which means that 2009 is probably the most optimistic projection for inclusion in GSM phones. For those of us on CDMA networks here in the states, well, we'll probably be waiting another year after that for the typical catch-up and personalization phase (assuming, of course, that our CDMA carrier is even around anymore!)
Sprint has named a new CEO, Daniel R. Hesse, who's been around the wireless block a few times. He was CEO of AT&T Wireless back when it was, er, still AT&T Wireless (best not to revisit the merger madness in too much detail) from 1997-2000. He's also on Nokia's board of directors (Imagine Nokia putting serious effort into making a CDMA smartphone for the US market. Now imagine a square circle. About the same, eh?). Most recently, though, he ran Sprint's local phone division, spun off as “Embarq” to placate the the monopoly police after the Nextel merger. ...In other words, the world of wireless executives is small and Hesse is probably as good a choice as any.
Of course, he has his work cut out for him, and how. Sprint still looks to be on a collision course to switch to WiMax and be pretty much the only player planning on a 4G network that isn't based on GSM. That's assuming they even last long enough to get there. See, according to Skydeck, nearly 40% of their customers plan on leaving Sprint at then end of their contracts. They also have the lowest customer satisfaction and the lowest percentage of customers who want to stay with them.
I was just chatting with Merlyn3D about the BlackJack II and he wondered, innocently enough, whether or not the BlackJack II would be upgraded to Windows Mobile 6.1. I smacked my forehead - of course it will be upgradable. We know because Microsoft told us so in October.
“But WMExperts,” you ask, “Windows Mobile 6.1 is still in the ethereal land of myth and rumor. How could Microsoft have confirmed the upgrade back in October, when 6.1 was but a whispered dream?”
We reply: that's some fancy prose there, bub. But check it: at CTIA in October, they announced Microsoft System Center, Mobile Device Manager 2008 (aka MSCMDM). As part of that announcement, they mentioned that it would require “forthcoming versions of WM devices.” “Forthcoming versions,” eh? Sound like WM6.1 to you? Because it does to us.
They also mentioned a couple of devices that would--for sure--be compatible with the device-management software:
The Treo 750
The BlackJack II
So either the Treo 750 (recently upgraded to Windows Mobile 6) and the BlackJack II have secret settings for MSCMDM or - more likely - they'll require an upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.1. Those were the only two devices named by, er, name; but we also know that HTC, Palm, Motorola, Sprint, and i-mate all announced they'd be on board with MSCMDM at or around launch in the 2nd Quarter of 2008. Nothing shocking there, but good to file away.
So WM6.1 is probably coming. But when? Make a couple (wildly optimistic) assumptions: that both Microsoft and these device managers will be on time; then you should see WM6.1 before Q3 of next year, say by the end of the summer. Why “wildly optimistic?” Maybe you haven't noticed, but Palm got their WM6.0 update for the 750 in just under the wire and Samsung has yet to release the long-promised upgrade to Windows Mobile 6.0 for the original BlackJack. So we aren't going to be placing any bets that Palm and Samsung will get their upgrades out on time.
At least we know WM6.1 running on at least one Q9h somewhere, somehow. Hope, as it tends to do, springs eternal.
In its first full quarter of sales, the iPhone has already climbed past Microsoft’s entire lineup of Windows Mobile smartphones in North America, according to figures compiled by Canalys and published by Symbian.
Ok: some context. You can't get Canalys' number's without paying a lot of money, so instead what many folks do is find some sucker who's willing to pay for those numbers and publish them. Symbian is often that rube, and so we have the numbers and they show something startling: in one quarter (maybe two, we're working secondhand here), the iPhone had garnered 27% of US marketshare in the smartphone category. Ouch.
Now we're going on record saying that we're not believing the numbers 100%, but we can't tell if the fishy smell of the numbers is coming from the fact that the report is fishy or the fact that we're living in De Nile. It might be the denial thing, since we've already seen numbers claiming that the internet sees more Mobile Safari users than it does PocketIE users.
So now what? Well, like Morning Paper (thanks for the link, there, pals!), we're taking the news philosophically. Well, philosophically with a side of “we don't believe it yet.” Look at the bright side - if it's true, we're suddenly rootin' for the underdogs, which is more fun and more gratifying. Plus: it looks like the platform that lost the most to the iPhone is the PalmOS. We're not saying, we're just saying.
So, what's the gist of what's coming down through Microsoft's pipe? Everyone knows that Windows Mobile 6.1 is coming through the tubes, and that it's a relatively small update. It does some stuff that will be awesome (threaded messaging, for example), but beyond that and a few minor key tweaks, nothing fundamentally significant will change for the people using it.
For the next version after that, Microsoft is going to pare down their desktop version of Internet Explorer and stick it into Windows Mobile. Core apps like Office, Outlook Mobile, Windows Media, photos, etc. will all be re-vamped (re-imagineered?) so as to be easier to use. It sounds like the tweaks will be subtle enough that it won't freak out long-term users but still deliver some good, solid UI improvement payoff.
The next version of Windows Mobile after that last version of Windows Mobile is going to get the crazy redesigns, fully integrated search love, and should be able to present information to you based on your context. For example, while you're on the phone with someone the screen shows you their card in your address book, or a driving map to where they are, or the meetings you have with them in the next 2 weeks, or the next 20 emails you're going to send to this person. Microsoft will no longer optimize Windows Mobile for styli at this point, unless you think of your index finger as a stylus.
At this point, with 6.1 and then the next and then this version of Windows Mobile getting rumored, I don't know where to put the codeword "Photon." My guess is that it applies to all of them and none of them. Might be time to retire that particular codeword.
At the recent CTIA conference, Ballmer was asked about the Zune phone. As usual, he dodged the question, but said that they'd probably roll achievements from the Zune into Windows Mobile. As to which version of Windows Mobile will get those improvements, we've got no answer yet. Unofficially, it sounds like piecewise into both of the next big versions. At any rate, we know it's coming someday.
So point your Smartphone/Standard edition device at http://mobile.mobimate.com/sp and your PocketPC/Pro at http://mobile.mobimate.com/ppc - because WorldMate just became free. We're guessing they're hoping the free feature set, which includes an “itinerary viewer, global weather forecast, world clocks, a clothing
size and measurement converter, a world day / night map and a tip and tax calculator” will entice you to pony up for the paid version, which gets you “real-time flight status, flight schedules, packing list, animated satellite weather imagery and global dialing code guide.”
The subscription is $6.95 per month, which is a little steep for a bunch of info you can find on the web for free. We're not complaining, though, because we're going to give the free version a shot here right quick... nom nom nom. (Excessively corny “has a flavor” and “nom nom nom” jokes brought to you by icanhascheezburger)
Zumobi (neé Zenzui) is a project spun out of Microsoft. It's a thumbable/keypad tile interface that's somewhere between browser and widget system - you can easily click on “zones” to zoom in and out to “tiles” that are basically web-based widgets for stuff like weather and news and Family guy and ...and it's a little tough to explain. Go take a peek at the Demo. Fortunately, such explanations aren't strictly necessary, as the Zumobi Beta has just opened! There are a couple of caveats, though:
To participate in the Zumobi Beta you’ll need the following:
- A U.S.A. mobile phone number
- A data plan with your mobile phone service provider (we strongly recommend this be an unlimited data plan)
- A mobile phone running Windows Mobile 5 or 6
They also recommend you stick to using it on a Q, BlackJack (1), Dash, or Touch, but feel free to give it a try on whatever. It's a beta, of course, so caveat emptor and all that. They'll appreciate the feedback you can give 'em, though, and hopefully it'll catch on enough to get folks developing those tiles/widgets.