My window to the world


Microsoft should update Windows Phone update

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 17-Dec-2012 12:39

I previously commented on how I thought Microsoft should split Windows Phone 8 updates in different types and deliver those without interference from the operators and OEMs. It seems this is something is being done - if we actually have had updates yet.

We now see that some OEMs have been receiving Windows Phone 8 updates before others, and some countries come first. This means we will again get into that old game of waiting, waiting, waiting for updates.

Here is how I would like to see it working: use the Windows Update infrastructure for deployment. It's tested and supports heavy loads. Every second Tuesday of the month (Wednesday 7am New Zealand time) Windows Updates are available to everyone, around the world, at the same time. You can manually start an update at that time, or let your PC do the automatic update which will happen sometime during the next couple of days.

I would also like to see this certainty in Windows Phone. Something like "every last Friday of the month there's an update available". And that would be available to everyone, exactly like the Windows Update for desktop is available. This could be for example small fixes, like the SMS timezone bugs affecting New Zealanders who see SMS with +13 hours difference - almost like they're applying the timezone shift twice. This should be a simple fix, so why do we have to wait months to see it here?

Yes, I understand some updates require the mobile operator blessing, but those should not block updates that fix things in the OS and don't touch anything related to the mobile network. These should have a separate schedule.

This is another thing Microsoft could do to differentiate itself from competitors in the smartphone market.



Game Masters at Te Papa Museum of New Zealand

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 15-Dec-2012 09:41

I visited the Game Masters exhibition at Te Papa with some journalists yesterday, before its opening from today 15th December.

We were given an hour tour highlighting the different aspects of gaming development, moving from entertainment to art form, social and family integrator. Lots of hands on stuff around the floor - from old early 1980s arcades to the latest Kinect games using a huge projection screen. You will also see artwork used to develop characters and backdrops for famous games, plus a handy store on the way with lots of memorabilia.

Here are some photos so you can have an idea of what's available around.























Windows Server 2012 Standard lands, work begins

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Dec-2012 22:39

The boxes are here:

Now I can start the "official" work on planning our Geekzone migration. Exciting.



Migrating Geekzone to Windows Server 2012

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 12-Dec-2012 16:33

It seems I now have something to do during the holiday period. Thanks to Microsoft I will soon have some software delivered here and will start testing, planning and executing a migration, updating our HP DL server to Windows Server 2012. This will also include updating three Hyper-V clients running the IIS, SQL Server, SQL Sentry monitoring and testing platforms powering Geekzone and this blog (among others).

It seems a fresh install of the physical server (running Hyper-V) is indicated. If all testing and planning goes well, the final migration will be done by end of January I think.

It will be fun.



Windows Phone 8 SMS wrong date/time

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Dec-2012 13:53

It seems there's a problem with Windows Phone 8 and the way it processes date/time on SMS.

The ones received at "23:10" were actually received at 10:10. The one marked as 2/12 was actually receive 1st Dec @ 1:45pm.

It seems the messaging app is showing dates with a 13 hour shift. I am told both Telecom NZ and Microsoft NZ know about this problem but in our forums they are quiet about what's causing it and when it will be fixed.

By the way, this does not happen in Windows Phone 7.5.

UPDATE:



Windows Phone billing

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Dec-2012 13:35

It is business as usual: we all have to give a publisher our credit card information so that we can buy apps, subscriptions, etc. One would think Microsoft would make it easier for every customer to give them money, but that is not so.

My main credit card, the one used for online purchases, expired yesterday so obviously it was time to update it so that I could continue buying apps for my smartphone.

So I go to windowsphone.com and see the following:

So far so good. I click "Edit payment info" and get this:

Bummer Microsoft, something wrong with your systems uh? By the way, "contact customer support" is just an helpful suggestion. It could be hyperlinked to a page with a real phone number to contact support. But not, it is not.  The "Contact Us" at the bottom leads to a page suggesting I contact my operator or OEM. Very unhelpful because neither has control over YOUR billing.

So I click "View billing info" which instead takes to me a page https://commerce.microsoft.com/PaymentHub/PaymentInstrument which seems to work:

 

That's my new credit card there. But it wasn't easy to get it there, because that page doesn't have any "Add payment option" link. I suspect it would be in the other page appropriately named "Edit payment info" that already spat out the dummy on me before.

The way I got that credit card there was by using the Windows Phone 8 Wallet app. It worked, but in a cumbersome way. It should work on the "Edit payment info" page but it didn't. I had to enter a new card in the Wallet app and check the box "Set up card for app and music purchases". Lucky there is an app for that, right?

Note though that unless you check the box to make the new card a payment option for your app purchases, it will not be stored anywhere else but on your phone. If you check the box to make the card a payment option for app purchases you are actually redirected to a page outside the app (no way to see the URL but I suspect linked to the Windows account) to add the card information. In effect it seems you are adding the card to the Microsoft account payment info and this is then downloaded to the phone. Works for me but. . .

When I started entering my data I was thinking "cool, I can enter the information here and once it syncs to the cloud I can restore the data in case this phone needs to be reset or if I get a new Windows Phone". The sync in this case exists only one way - from your Microsoft account to the phone. This means updates you make inside the Windows Phone Wallet to an existing credit card doesn't reflect on the Microsoft account - I tried, when my card expired and actually was told by the app to first delete the card online then go back to the app.

No problem, I hear you saying, just enter the data directly in your Microsoft account and it will flow to the phone. Except that as we saw before, one page brings an error and the other doesn't even have an option to add payment options. This means If I want a backup option then the way to go is setting up on the phone itself while having all credit cards set as "App purchase" options, which is not ideal.

Anyway, the card is loaded. I wonder if this was a problem with my account only and how it would have worked if I didn't have the Wallet app (like Windows Phone 7 users for example).

In the next post I will comment on the Windows Phone Wallet app itself and how it works (or it was supposed to).



Nokia Lumia 920 first impressions and power saving tips

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 30-Nov-2012 13:01

I have been using a Nokia Lumia 920 for a few days now. Pretty impressed with speed, still getting used to the size (compared to the Lumia 800 I had before), loving the larger screen, hating the Windows Phone Desktop companion app for Windows 7 (where is the Zune wireless sync and automatic photo sync gone?!?!) but now Windows Phone 8 devices show up in Explorer as another drive so Copy and Paste it is (and actually pretty fast).

Found a problem with Office Hub (it seems it doesn't like SkyDrive accounts with 2,200 folders and 30,000 files) which is not a big deal since the standalone SkyDrive app deals with this very nicely.

Some things seem "incomplete" (as mentioned the Windows Phone Desktop app) such as the SMS backup - all good but can I access my SMS from the web please?

Good to see all apps I had on my Windows Phone 7 Nokia Lumia 800 work on this Windows Phone 8 Nokia Lumia 920.

Had a couple of Skype experiences and it worked well. Used Bluetooth to play music with a Samsung Wireless Audio system and a Philips Fidelio clock with no problems - hey Bluetooth seems to work fine!

I read around the web people complaining about their new Nokia Lumia 920 battery life. I have no complains about it. Actually this one was last charged around 14 hours ago and with light use (a little Bluetooth, WiFi updates) it is at 50% now.

Here is what I've done to manage the device's power consumption:

Email accounts:
  • Push email: I have it off all the time. I use Office 365 and could have push email active but because I receive a high number of emails every day I rather not have the phone constantly updating the Inbox. I manually update these.
  • Hotmail update: change the default to daily if you use the Windows Live account only for managing the device, or for something suitable to the volume you receive. There's no manual option here.
Settings:
  • Bluetooth and WiFi off: if you are not connected to a Bluetooth or WiFi access point, having these on is just a waste of battery.
  • WiFi search: uncheck [Notify me when new networks are found], [Automatically connect to WiFi hotspots] and [Send information about WiFi connections to help discover nearby WiFi].
  • Turn WiFi and Bluetooth on/off quickly: download an app such as Shortcut Tilesand use it to pin a tile to the home screen that allows you to quickly toggle WiFi, Bluetooth and other settings.
  • Lock screen timeout: I have mine set to one minute.
  • Lock screen background: I use a static photo. Do not use the Bing, CNN, Facebook services as that might initiate data traffic.
  • Tap+send: I don't use NFC so this is off. You can obviously create lots of automated tasks with NFC but unless you have tags and actively use them, turn this off.
  • Location: if you don't use maps, turn this off. If you do, leave it. Mine is on.
  • Backup: I have [app list+settings] on, the rest off. I don't mind if I lose my text messages and my photos are manually copied if I want them - uploading every photo taken to SkyDrive is a sure way to use the battery and mobile data.
  • Brightness: I set to medium, no automatic brightness.
  • Find my phone: I leave this set. You could save a bit more battery by turning this off but can't manage the phone remotely.
  • Background tasks: I turned all off.
  • Music+Videos: unless you use Xbox Music, turn [Connect with Xbox Music] and [Xbox Music cloud collection]
  • Photos+Camera: [SkyDrive auto upload] off
  • Internet Explorer: turn [Use SmartScreen filter] and [Send a Do Not Track request to websites] off.
  • Messaging: turn off the Facebook messaging option and if you don't use Messenger turn your status to Offline.
Applications:
  • A large number of apps have automatic updates implemented. Turn these off. For example the Currency app by xe.net updates currency exchange values every 10 minutes by default. If you have weather apps that shows current weather for your location in a tile you might want to replace this with just looking outside the window.
Phone settings (proceed with caution here):
  • Switch radio to best service in your area. Every phone has a Maintenance menu. If you are using a mobile operator that offers 100% 3G service (Telecom NZ for example), having the radio searching for 2G service is a waste of battery. You can open the Maintenance menu and set the radio to use WCDMA only.
  • Caution is needed here. If you go overseas not all operators are 100% 3G and if you don't turn this back to default you may not roam in all areas. If you try to use the phone in an operator with older 2G and newer 3G mix (Vodafone and 2degrees for example) then you will have limited coverage in some areas because their 2G/3G services have different coverage areas. If you need to place an emergency call while outside your operator area and only 2G is available then you won't be able to do it. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Any suggestions from you folks?



Nespresso and Caffeluxe capsules

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 22-Nov-2012 21:59

Someone found out The Warehouse is importing South African-made Nespresso-compatible capsules, so I decided to stop by and compare.

TL;DR? Half price, but you can taste the difference. Read more in the Geekzone discussion with more pictures.



Your opinion is so highly regarded you shouldn’t talk about the topics you talk

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Nov-2012 17:07

Not the first time I post a comment here on this blog or Twitter and someone comment with a "You have a large audience  and shouldn't be spreading ideas such as this" or "You have a position of influence so you shouldn't post this".

This mainly happens when the person posting the reply doesn't agree with the idea I have just posted or have a business interest that conflicts with the idea.

The way I see those comments they are something like "I don't like what you are saying and because you have a large audience that could believe you I rather you not posted it online".

Think about it for a second. My audience or my position of influence is not an automatic gag order if one disagrees with me.

The last example came after I posted a tweet:

In my ops world I follow a good rule: less is better. If I have the option of running something without having to add more to my stack on the server, I will. If I have to add anything to the server, it needs to be really good to justify a spot in the box. And in my books there's nothing great (at the moment) that would make me install JRE on my servers.

So I got a reply:

I guess Paul wanted to say "shouldn't be engaged". But you get the point.



My view on New Zealand ISPs

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 14-Nov-2012 10:15

Another impulse blog post. Today I lost all hope for New Zealand ISPs.

Either they have performance problems, billing problems, customer services problems or something else that will make customers' lives a pain. The lack of peering, low caps, high prices, long delays to launch new services and plans, high number of customers sharing a small bandwidth pool make me sick.



freitasm's profile

Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

I work for Intergen and I'm also the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums.

Subscribe now to my blog RSS feed or the Geekzone RSS feed.

If you want to contact me, please use this page or email me freitasm@geekzone.co.nz. Note this email is not for technical support. I don't give technical support. You can use our Geekzone Forums for community discussions on technical issues.

Here's is my full disclosure post.

If you'd like to help me keep Geekzone going, please use this Geekzone Amazon affiliate link when placing any orders on Amazon.



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