My window to the world

I am a guest on Mobility Guys podcast

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Sep-2006 08:02

While I am not a guy who would produce a podcast, I have to take my hat off to the guys at mobilityguys.com. They put on a good show and always have interesting guests. Like the mobilityguys.com podcast #9, just out, with Mauricio Freitas, (er, that's me)...

In our 9th episode we talk with fellow Mobile Device MVP from Wellington, New Zealand, Mauricio Freitas who runs and operates the Geekzone, about some of features of Windows Mobile that you may or may not know about. Like the benefits of using Exchange 2003 SP2 in combination with latest updates of MSFP and AKU2 and what it means to you the end user. As always, we also talk about a few gadgets as well, like some bluetooth stereo headphones and headsets, U3 drives, and more.

The mobilityguys.com are Jack Cook, Steven Hughes, Chris Leckness, Don Sorcinelli. They run their own mobility focused sites such as www.aximsite.com, www.bostonpocketpc.com, www.experiencemobility.com and have in common a Microsoft MVP Mobile Devices award (click on their names or mine to see our Microsoft MVP Profile). 

Download podcast #9 to hear about Windows Mobile MSFP (Messaging and Security Feature Pack), how it integrates with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 SP2 and with the upcoming Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Learn about neat things like Direct Push e-mail, remote wipe, closer integration of Windows Mobile and Exchange features, and more.

You will notice my voice sounds funny (yes, it's funny), but remember my part was recorded over a Skype VoIP call, with added latency and distortion (I know, all excuses for my funny accent).

And if you are curious about what a Microsoft MVP is, you can check the mobilityguys.com podcast #8 with Tyler Welch (Microsoft MVP Lead) or visit www.microsoft.com/mvp.





htciwiki and copyrighted contents

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 23-Sep-2006 18:36

It's a shame that people think that copyrighted content can be freely copied without attribution.

I am talking about htcwiki, a wiki-style website for people wanting to post material about HTC devices, those Windows Mobile devices we all know so well (full disclosure: I am a Microsoft Windows Mobile MVP).

According to WHOIS, htcwiki is registered to Waggener Edstrom Strategic Communications, the PR giant. The information I have is that it actually belongs to HTC, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of mobile devices. HTC is the company behind some of the most successful Windows Mobile devices in the market, including those branded as i-mate, T-Mobile, O2, Cingular and others.

In the frontpage you will see a picture from our review of the HTC Universal, and on the page with HTC Universal information you will read our full HTC Universal (O2 Exec) review, plus our pictures. You will even find the Today screen in one of the screenshots with the Owner Name "Geekzone" in it. One of the images is hotlinked to our server, and you will see the default graphic we send out in these cases.

If the page goes away before you can see it on htcwiki, here is a pdf of this page.

Why I am ranting about this? For a company that makes the most interesting Windows Mobile devices, and it's being supported by a PR company such as WaggEd, it's a shame that they let people post someone else's material on their on-line property, without taking appropriate steps to ensure no copyright is breached.

Investigating the site, this is what I could find on its About page:

While this wiki is operated by HTC, its content is not managed by HTC.


Nice try, but they also have a Terms of Use that says:

By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using the Communication Services, you will not: ... Upload, or otherwise make available, files that contain images, photographs, software or other material protected by intellectual property laws, including, by way of example, and not as limitation, copyright or trademark laws (or by rights of privacy or publicity) unless you own or control the rights thereto or have received all necessary consent to do the same.

...

Pursuant to Title 17, United States Code, Section 512(c)(2), notifications of claimed copyright infringement should be sent to Service Provider's Designated Agent.


Who is the "Service Provider's Designated Agent"? There's no identification anywhere in the site, not even a way to contact HTC through the site.

Oh, I hear you saying, why don't you e-mail the htciwiki guys directly? I would, but the only way to contact anyone on that site is by registering and then sending a private message to one of the moderators. I don't want to register on htcwiki and I don't want to talk to a moderator. The site has no contact information that I could easily find.

I also get up to the walls here because HTC doesn't even reply to our e-mails about their products, and never sent anything for us to review (the HTC products we review are branded i-mate, Telecom or O2).

It would be great to have an acknowledgement with proper attribution in the article. Even better would be to actually have a communication channel between HTC and people writing about their products, because the way they do it now, is really, really, well... sad.






Testing the i-mate Smartflip: security stop

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 20-Sep-2006 17:17

I just got hold of a Windows Mobile-based i-mate Smartflip for a review. As I feared, it is indeed locked in a way that I am not able to install a self-signed Root Certificate:


Why, oh why, i-mate you do this? Installing a Root Certificate is an easy task on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC, but on a Smartphone it is a pain. Why i-mate ships these phones with this security policy preventing people of installing Root Certificates? Don't tell me it's "dangerous". It is needed for business, and it's allowed on Pocket PCs, which are connected to the same network, and run the same OS. This is just...

I need a self-signed Root Certificate installed so that I can enable Microsoft Exchange synchronisation on this device.

So I decided to go Club i-mate and ask their on-line support about this. My session has timed out and I couldn't connect to anyone there. They probably set a cookie in my system and now I can't initiate another session unless I clear my cookies, which I don't want to do because I have some automatic login settings stored here.

I then tried to read the FAQs for the i-mate Smartflip. I have an i-mate Jasjar, i-mate Pocket PC and i-mate SP2 registered with Club i-mate, but they won't show me the FAQs for any other product other than the ones I have registered:

I need access to the FAQ, even if I don't have a Smartflip. If I register this one and return it the next user won't be able to register it.

And yes, I know there are ways to unlock these devices. But I want the official word. A non-expert user won't go around trying to find ways to hack his phone security system.

UPDATE: it looks like there's a program to install certificates on this device, but only available to registered members. I have finally managed to contact the i-mate live support and talked to Duncan. I explained that I can't register this device, because it belongs to Vodafone NZ and I am using it for a review (he could see my domain). So he is forwarding the installer directly to me. Let's see how it goes. One less bump in the ride.

UPDATE: As promised, I got the e-mail with the certificate installer and this i-mate Smartflip is synchronising with my Microsoft Exchange Server as I write this update... Way to go now!

UPDATE: Two days with the Samrtflip and all working well so far. The review will come up sometime soon...






Windows Mobile devices reviews

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 11-Sep-2006 10:15

Some of you asked me about upcoming Windows Mobile devices on Vodafone New Zealand, considering that tomorrow (12 September) we'll see the announcement of their new HSDPA offering, under the 3G Mobile Broadband badge (you can read some of my previous comments here and here), and considering that some of the new Windows Mobile devices will have the ability to connect to this new fast network.

All I can say is... Hmmm, not much. In the last few months Vodafone New Zealand has been in a transformation cycle, and what I know is that's been really hard to get to try some of their new smart devices.

While I have met with two people showing me new mobile devices, I could not get any for a review - not even the ones already in stores nationwide.

Take for example the i-mate Smartflip. It's been in stores for a while now, and I asked, begged, implored for a review unit, with no luck so far. Then there is the i-mate JasJAM, the i-mate SP6 (pictured) and the Palm Treo 750v. I've seen these devices, but so far I have had no luck in arranging any for review.


Then check the article on Dominion Post with myself showing off a tablet PC connected to the Vodafone HSDPA. I know some IT jounalists (at least one person from Computerworld and another from the Dominion Post) did not get a chance to review the new service before launch. I only got to try the HSDPA network thanks to a friend who arranged me a Sierra Wireless card to use.

What's up at Vodafone these days?


UPDATE: To be fair, Vodafone is not the only one. HP does the same. I don't even bother asking HP anymore, and I simply ignore them.






The New York Times goes mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Sep-2006 10:13

The reason for this blog post is the launch of the Ney York Times Mobile Edition. This is pretty cool, even though I see this as a marketing move from Microsoft to reach the large readership base of the U.S-based newspaper. jkOnTheRun has more details.

The news come down in a handheld-compatible format. It renders well on Internet Explorer Mobile, and correctly identifies the mobile browser. You just have to point the browser to http://mobile.nytimes.com/ and you will have something like this:


Very nice layout, fits extremely well on a mobile device. Note that "Windows Mobile" branding. Like the MSNBC smart client (which I am using on my Pocket PC and is quite cool, I should post about it later), this seems to be a marketing exercise to move the brand forward into the public view.

I wonder if any New Zealand newspapers would do this?  I know the NZ Herald offers PDA client, but it requires 1.5MB memory on your device, and the system requirements link goes to a "page not found". It should really be just a mobile version of their pages, visible through a web browser though, so people wouldn't have to fiddle around with downloading installers, installing new applications using precious memory on the device, etc. On these days almost all PDA sold is connected to a cellular data network, so why not use this infrastructure?




Why the HTC Str Trk (i-mate Smartflip) is the way it is...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 19-Aug-2006 09:30

Jason Dunn, over at Smartphone Thoughts has a Q&A with Jeremy Setliff (Product Specialist, HTC Americas), about the HTC Str Trk (a.k.a lots of names, check our Device Database).

It seems all design decisions came from their "market research". The phone does look nice, but not having USB 2.0 and using a proprietary USB connector and using a single port for synchronisation, charging, headsets seem to be an interesting result, wouldn't you agree?






Detecting Internet Explorer Mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 9-Aug-2006 11:13

You have a nice Windows Mobile device, supporting 3G, HSDPA, CDMA EVDO, Wi-Fi, VGA resolution - but your bank's website say you can't access it because your browser is too old. Or your preferred airlines won't show you the fligh schedules because your browser is not up-to-date.

Even though the moderm mobile browsers do a lot, you can find this kind of problem. And it's not a problem on your ultra-geeky mobile device, but most of the times developers don't take this in consideration.

The Microsoft Windows Mobile is changing the way Internet Explorer Mobile reports the User-Agent string. This change will be effective from an upcoming Windows Mobile version, which should come after the current Windows Mobile 5.

The changes are:

For Windows Mobile 5.0, our "current" release, the User-Agent header that the browser sends across is one of the following two strings:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; PPC; 240x320)
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 4.01; Windows CE; Smartphone; 176x220)

Some of the really broken sites we've seen were looking for the resolution information, and using that to deliver a mobile page.  That's wrong, because that information may be absent on some devices from the User-Agent string (more about that in a minute...)


Others were using one of many badly written samples out there on the net, finding only, "MSIE 4.01," then kicking the browser out of the site, because they wanted IE 5.5 or IE 6.0 only.

Moving forward, here's the new IE Mobile User-Agent string:

Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows CE; IEMobile m.n)

If you want to detect the new browsers coming out, just look for the string "IEMobile" as part of the User-Agent header.  Since the capabilities of the Pocket PC and Smartphone versions of the browser are identical, and they're built from the identical code base, there's no reason to differentiate them any more. 

Additional headers we send are:

UA-pixels: {i.e. 240x320}
UA-color: {mono2 | mono4 | color8 | color16 | color24 | color32}
UA-OS: {Windows CE (POCKET PC) - Version 3.0}
UA-CPU = {i.e. ARM SA1110}
UA-Voice = {TRUE | FALSE}



More information on IEMobile Team Weblog. You can refer your bank's IT department to that page...








Remote Code Execution on Windows Mobile

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 8-Aug-2006 21:27

Hmmm. Wouldn't you know this? According to the Symantec Security Response Weblog Collin Mulliner demonstrated a remote code execution flaw via MMS on Windows CE during the last DefCon.
 
Details are available on a pdf entitled "Advanced Attacks Against Pocket PC Phones".

In summary, it seems to be possible to remotely execute code on a Windows Mobile device by seding a specially crafted MMS (multimedia message service) message to the target device.

A special word here: according to the documentation this is aimed at devices based on Windows CE 4.2 (corresponding to Windows Mobile 2003 and Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition). There's no demo of this on Windows Mobile 5.0 (Windows CE 5.0).

The devices used for testing were the HTC Blue Angel (i-mate PDA2k, Dopod 700, O2 XDA IIs, Orange SPV2000, Siemens SX66,  Vodafone VPA III) and HP h6315.

And while we are here, the Symantec Security Response Weblog is nice, but they don't have comments or trackbacks, so they don't know (easily) that we commented on their entry.



Zune Thoughts...

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 1-Aug-2006 14:35

by now everyone on this planet, and some of our aliens visitors know what Zune is. If you do not know yet, check the link or just wait a few more days to get lots of coverage on a new site coming soon: Zune Thoughts.

Yes, this is another one of the "Thoughts Media" sites, created by fellow Microsoft MVP Mobile Devices, Jason Dunn...





Caption the Ilium Software team and get some prizes

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 27-Jul-2006 09:38

Here is an opportunity for some fun and games: the Ilium Software team is running a caption contest over on their company blog.


Go over there and enter the caption in the comments and be in to win some software for your Windows Mobile or Palm device.

Just to make it clear, comments are disabled on this entry here, so you have to visit their blog to enter the competition.







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'm the Geekzone admin. On Geekzone we publish news, reviews and articles on technology topics. The site also has some busy forums. Also worth visiting is TravelTalk NZ, a community for travelers!

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.

A couple of blog posts you should read:

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