Category Archives: General

Windows Phone ‘Reserved Space’

My Windows Phone is showing that almost half its paltry capacity of 8 GB is consumed by “reserved space and content from other computers”.

Windows Phone - Reserved Space

I’ve gone into the Zune desktop software –> Settings/Phone/Reserved Space and set the amount reserved to zero.

Windows Phone - Reserved Space of 0

So if the 3.36 GB isn’t “reserved” then it must be “content from other computers”. Hmm…. well I’ve never paired the phone with any other computer other than my awesome laptop, so what’s going on? This article strives to explain what could be going on. You might have to read that twice – I know I did.

I tried the “Erase all content” button. The phone and Zune desktop software both showed zero music, video, pictures and podcasts. This had the following effect:

Windows Phone - Reserved Space with no Media

I also found a few other links that asked the obvious question – how do I free up this capacity? Plenty of people questioning – but I didn’t find an answer that worked for me.

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/winphone/forum/wp7-sync/how-to-shrink-reserved-space-or-content-from-other/5d81707a-ee5a-e011-8dfc-68b599b31bf5

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/zune/forum/music-pc/reserved-space-and-content-from-other-computers/11ba50dc-d8b8-40f7-b0c3-2bd3a4af836c

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/953593

http://forum.xda-developers.com/archive/index.php/t-904321.html

The last link offers some hope. It suggests that the number may actually be nothing whatsoever to do with “content from other computers” or “reserved space”. Its actually space used by the installed applications and games. Of course this now seems perfectly obvious. Not only is there the cost of installing the applications – but also the data that each keeps locally – for instance the mail boxes, map cache, saved games etc. What’s strange though is how much this allocated capacity seems to fluctuate. I tried uninstalling some apps, deleting the mapping history and removing one of my outlook mail boxes. That reduced the number a fraction – down to 2.6 GB.

It would be great to be able to get more insight into what has that space allocated. Aside from resetting the phone (removing all apps) I’m not too sure where to go from here. Suggestions anyone? [Oh – and I’ve already tried installing a 32 GB memory card – that didn’t end well either].

Windows Phone 7 Launch

Today I finally purchase a Windows Phone 7 device. I choose the Samsung Focus on an AT&T plan.

The Purchase

First – I took the day off work. That may sound a little extreme – and certainly wasn’t my original intention. The day off work was actually due to a culmination of things*.

I got to the store just a fraction after early opening time at 8am. I saw a line of people queued up at the counter and walked inside ready to join the end of the queue. Instead I was pounced on by about three sales staff. [The line of people turned out to be there to grab the free Katy Perry tickets as part of the launch event promotions.]

I was in the store for about 20 minutes and during that time I was the only customer purchasing a Windows Phone (or any phone for that matter). It wasn’t a small store in some out of the way town either – this was a fairly large store on Madison Ave, midtown Manhattan. There were no free Xbox 360s either, just some Katy Perry tickets which apparently anyone could grab – no purchase required. AT&T were selling the phone on its ludicrously priced plan – around $80 per month for 450 minutes and 2Gb data.

I asked the salesman to install a 32Gb micro SD card to boost the memory from 8Gb to 40Gb. He was helpful enough to insert the card for me, but not knowledgeable enough to know that this requires a phone reset.

The Hardware

The Samsung Focus is quite a nice piece of hardware. It’s very light and thin – which I like, and the 4 inch screen means that its quite a big device – in my opinion its too big. The finish is better than I was expecting given that its a predominantly plastic body. It isn’t as sexy (or effeminate) as an iPhone 4 – but its better looking that a lot of the other smartphone devices out there.

The super AMOLED screen lives up to the hype – it is very beautiful – especially the blacks which blend perfectly into the black frame.

Windows Phone Samsung Focus registered in Zune

What’s working

Exchange, Windows Live and POP accounts syncing and merging. The Calendar merging is great. I’m very fortunate in that I’m not really a calendar power user so I only have one calendar in exchange and one in Live that I really use a lot – the merging works well. Email setup was very easy – as easy as the Blackberry in fact. I’m still coming to terms with not having a unified Inbox – I’ll have to wait and see how that works out.

Games – not really my highest priority but the AT&T bundled Ilomilo was a real hit with the kids. I downloaded the Harvest demo and the graphics are certainly quite impressive.

Picked up some basic free apps (mostly from Microsoft) and even purchased a NYC subway application ($0.99) that looks promising (but haven’t really tried it out yet).

Bing map application works great on Wi-Fi but was too slow on 3G. That’s no different to the experience I’ve had with Google maps though on other phones – and says more about the network than the platform/app.

Once I got everything synced with my PC the Zune software worked nicely. I’ve been looking forward to streaming media on the go – in addition to just having my podcasts etc. synced wirelessly.

Marketplace client is much improved on the Windows Mobile 6.5 version. Browsing is now actually quite a pleasant experience. The only thing that I’d like to see is some way to launch an application from the store. It’s annoying that you can download and install a small app almost immediately – but in order to run it you have to exit out of the Marketplace back to the start screen and find the newly installed application in a long list. [Maybe I’ve missed something here?]

What’s not working

How do I view or upload to Smugmug? I’ve got 10Gb+ worth of photos sitting in Smugmug galleries. I linked my Live ID to Smugmug a few months back but haven’t been able to figure out how this achieves anything. I was hoping that it just meant the Live web-site and Messenger were just behind the times, but it doesn’t seem that Windows Phone makes any use of this association either. I’d love to know how this is supposed to work – I’m being optimistic and just hoping that I’ve missed some simple setting somewhere. I need access to my photos – please!

There were heaps of little things that didn’t work. Facebook integration gave me an “Oops” message with a “try again later”. At least three of the hyperlinks took me to a “Sorry can’t find that page” – these were Microsoft and AT&T links. Some things didn’t work how I expected because I spent the first hour or so playing with the phone in a coffee shop prior to connecting it to my computer. So when I signed into Zune using my Live ID (with Zune subscription) I couldn’t play any non-purchased music. I understand that the device has to be linked to my account but why can’t that be done from the phone itself?

The on-screen keyboard is horrible. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never really used a finger based on-screen keyboard before, so I’m not suggesting its any worse than the competition. I’m forever hitting the wrong letter and the auto-correct only seems to be available in some scenarios – certainly not for users names and passwords which I did a lot of in the initial setup. I also couldn’t figure out how to position the cursor within a word – it would always either highlight the entire word or move just before or after. Makes me wish for a stylus – I could be much quicker and more accurate (and I find its also a lot more comfortable). Anyway – guess I got to move with the times {sigh}…

Development

At first I just connected my phone, fired up Visual Studio changed the deployment target to Windows Phone 7 Device and pressed F5. This generated a deployment error – something about developer unlock required. The embedded URL (which I had to manually retype into the browser) wasn’t much help…

Windows Phone App Hub Page Not Found

Doing a Bing search on the app hub didn’t get me anywhere either. I quickly resorted to googling for the answer and came across this blog post…

http://www.istartedsomething.com/20100611/windows-phone-7-developer-phone-unlock-detailed/

Windows Phone Developer Device Registratio
n

Once that was done, I hit F5 again and hey presto Word Puzzle is deployed to my phone. Nice!

First Impressions

Based on what I saw of the “launch” I’m not sure how well the devices are selling, nor how effective the marketing has been. I keep reading posts about low supply due to high demand which I find hard to fathom. My main priority was to get a device that I could easily write applications for, that had a decent media player and could keep me connected via e-mail and popular social networks. From that perspective I think the phone’s going to suffice. It also means I can get rid of my company Blackberry which is a semi-functional (it does e-mail OK but that’s about it) and truly un-inspiring device.


* Those things that led to me taking a day off included:

  • Finding out my company adheres to a barbaric but seemingly fairly common policy of not allowing staff to rollover annual leave from one year to the next (As the Windows Phone 7 adverts would say – Really?).
  • Having worked so many hours in the last few months that my hourly wage is roughly on par with what I used to earn delivering pizzas when I was 18 (OK – slight exaggeration). The main cause of working all these hours of course is that the work has just been so awesome. Having just pumped out a kick-ass version 1 release the product owner decided we should each get a day off this iteration to ‘recharge’.
  • A bunch of odd-jobs that I’ve been putting aside finally needed some attention. Tedious stuff like buying new work clothes, getting a hair cut, landlord duties.

Windows Phone 7 Trivia

OK – so yesterday I had a bit of a rant. Today I figure I’ll make up for it by sharing a few quick pieces of Windows Phone 7 trivia that I’ve learned over the last couple of days.

Limited number of developer apps deployed to a device

As a developer you can only have up to 10 of your own apps (deployed via Visual Studio) on your device. Of course you can uninstall some to make room to install others – but no more than 10 at a time. Probably not an issue for most people but a little quirky nonetheless.[I haven’t been able to confirm this myself].

No video out capabilities

The OS comes with a pretty neat version of PowerPoint. It lets you playback your PowerPoint slide deck and whilst you can’t create decks from scratch there is limited edit capability for last minute changes. So how cool is this – you sync your slide deck with your phone (say via SkyDrive) walk into your next meeting. Rather than having to lug a laptop around with you its simply a matter of taking out your phone and plugging it into the projector. Or at least it would be… if any of the hardware devices supported video out in this fashion. This really makes me wonder how useful having PowerPoint on the phone is without this feature? [Sure there is PowerPoint streaming etc. but what’s wrong with just plugging the phone into a projector/TV – e.g. via mini HDMI].

Buying a phone

Telstra HTC MozartOf all the retail package/plans I’ve seen to this point Australia’s Telstra seems to have the sweetest deal. They are doing the HTC Mozart for $0 up front on a $49 per month plan that includes generous call/sms caps plus 500Mb of data. So all up that’s AU$1176 for two years of Windows Phone goodness. (The Aussie dollar is currently a fraction under the US dollar). Telstra have plenty of flaws (there billing website is the worst of any I’ve had to use) but there network is 4G in all major Australian cities and is by far the best network in that country.

http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile/phones/windows7/index.html?ti=TR:TR:Oct10:htcmozart:TCOMindex:325×200

There is currently no official word on US pricing other than both AT&T and T-Mobile want to slug you $199 up front. Given the current US phone plan prices and the ridiculous cost of the iPhone I don’t expect to be getting anywhere near such a good deal as with Telstra.

http://htc.t-mobile.com/hd7/

http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/devices/windowsphone.jsp#fbid=8IXHCXcT8z7

Should I buy an iPhone?

I don’t own an iPhone – never have. In fact I’ve never purchased any Apple product. I get the distinct impression that they are simple not designed for me. They’re for normal people. Even when I think I should buy one of their products just to see what I’m missing out on I can’t bring myself to do it. It would be too embarrassing. I may as well go and but a T-shirt with “Apple Fanboy” written in large letters (though elegant and with just the right amount of whitespace). I even get embarrassed for other people when I see them using Apple products. I feel like I should take them aside and explain to them politely how they’ve been deluded into buying an overpriced, under-performing an ultimately unsatisfying product.

When I was living down-under Apple products were popular and I occasionally got to work with a developer who was a die-hard Apple fan. It was amusing, the rest of us would snigger at their misguided judgement and their uncanny ability to compare everything with the wonderful nirvana of the Apple Universe.

Now I live in New York. The Big Apple. I work for a tech company that embraces Apple products. Not just the hippy UX crew either. Even the management, strong willed , hard-core professionals, have Mac books and iPhones littered on their desk next to their Apple branded widescreens. I could be wrong but I believe the standard company issued laptop is a Mac book of some description (probably the big screen one with the ridiculous overheating issue?).

I’m currently working with a UX designer who comes to meetings with his iPad. Do I scream at him, telling him his ridiculously oversized iPhone is a 10 year old Slate device that lacks the fidelity that a stylus offered? No. Do I laugh when he starts describing how our new app is going to require a PopOver control – much more that just a PopUp? No. When he rounds every sharp angle and removes the right click? No.

Why not? Because maybe, just maybe the time has come for me to face the music. It’s me. It just must be me.

So what now… where to from here? So its finally come to this… should I just go and buy an iPhone 4?

I’d have some reasonable excuses:

  • My current US “cell” phone is a Blackberry – highly functional but about as exciting and attractive as a brick
  • The iPhone 4 is only $199 dollars – the last two phones I purchased cost around $700 each -  so they’re cheap!
  • There are lots fun accessories (including an iPhone 4 case to protect) that I can buy with the money I saved.

Of course there are also some arguments against:

  • New York seems to have the worst phone coverage of any major city I’ve been to in recent times (OK I don’t get around much and yes I understand tall buildings and ultra high density population doesn’t help). I’ve tried AT&T and T-Mobile networks and both have frequent drop-outs/interference. I believe they are just introducing 4G networks but currently browsing and live video streaming on the existing 3G network is terrible. I believe the iPhones are fixed to AT&T?
  • I can’t write programs for my new iPhone unless I buy an Apple computer. Worse still, I can’t just buy the computer and waste the OS to install Windows 7, I actually have to run OSX. [I’m guessing a bit here]. Now things are getting expensive – and I just don’t think I’m ready for such a big step into this hostile world.

So should I buy an iPhone 4? Comments welcome – maybe even a free phone accessory giveaway for the most amusing comment?

 


Just for the record, here’s the fine print:

  1. I’ve used many Apple products – some by choice, some mandated.
  2. I haven’t enjoyed any of these experiences.
  3. I realised this is largely based on my own prejudice that I’ve accumulated over the years from those experiences.
  4. I recognize that the vast majority of Apple product owners consider the experience satisfying as voted by their continued purchases.

Random thoughts for this week

View uptown from 86th floor of Empire State BuildingI may have found a viable option for printing panoramic photos that links in nicely with my SmugMug account.

 

 

Geekbrief_tv The internet TV options in Windows Media Center works much better in the States that it ever did for me back in Oz. I quite like geekbrief as just one of the many tech gadget shows.

 

HDR-CX550VDCR-PC100EI finally got around to replacing my trusty video camera – a Sony DCR-PC100E purchased back in 1999. It was one of the early Mini DV cameras, packed full of manual options in what was then an incredibly compact body. In fact the camera I’m replacing it with (HDR-CX550V) is about the same weight and size and has pretty much the same feature set (viewfinder, manual focus, night shot). Of course everything is now HD and records to memory rather than tape which makes all the difference. I guess the main sign of progress though is that the new camera cost me 1/4 of what I paid for the old one.

Having now had the chance to see an play with one first hand, I’m more convinced than ever that the iPad is an awkward form factor that just doesn’t compete well with the existing alternatives. I almost laughed out loud when I saw a guy trying to play a game on one in a busy subway. Kudos to him for being such a die-hard fan!

Rob Relyea sparked an interesting discussions on Sliverlight vs WPF which was fairly relevant to some talks we’ve been having at work recently. I was so impressed by the first commenter’s response – Mike Strobel – that I subscribed to his blog where he also had a very interesting take on the Windows Phone 7 UI. I have to admit I share many of Mike’s misgivings about the new UI.

Desk Genie

I’ve recently had the opportunity to reduce my material possessions to no more than can be carried in eight suitcases. This was quite a liberating experience. Particularly when you take into account that those eight suitcases were for my entire family – only two contained my stuff.

One of the fun parts of going through this experience is that we get to buy some essentials. Once all the boring stuff (like furniture) is out of the way I got to concentrate on replacing a few tech items. The idea being to create an area at home from which I can work remotely whilst remaining highly productive. First on the list was a more powerful, yet highly portable laptop, and a keyboard and cheap wide screen monitor to go with it.

This gave me the essentials but there were two minor flaws in the setup.

  1. The laptop only had three USB ports (not uncommon for laptops). Obviously this isn’t going to be enough even at this early stage – keyboard, mouse, phone, external hard drive. (Luckily the printer is on the network).
  2. My aging Sony Cybershot DSC-V1 uses the standard sized (old) memory stick format which doesn’t fit in the card reader on the Z-Series laptop. This means yet another device to connect via USB.

Enter the Desk Genie the perfect accessory for my HTC Touch Diamond2. This little gadget is designed to meet three simple objectives.

  1. Act as a multi-format card reader
  2. Act as a USB hub and power charger
  3. Provide a platform on which to mount portable devices so they are easily visible when sat at a desk.

Desk Genie Unboxed  Desk Genie what you get

What’s in the box? Comes with plenty of charger connections – the only two of interest for me were the mini and micro-USB.

I’ve had this item for almost a week now, and I’ve tried it out both at work and at home. Here’s my thoughts.

ProsDSC01319

  • It works well as phone holder. The “sticky” surface does exactly what it says – hold the phone firmly in place without having pesky catches, clips, Velcro etc. The viewing angle worked well for the desk and chair heights that I use both at home and work.
  • Charger worked fine for charging my HTC Touch Diamond, though had trouble with the Blackberry (see below).
  • As a USB hub it works flawlessly (as you’d hope). I’ve had my 1.5 Tb external drives connected through this and copied large volumes of data without any issues.
  • Has a very muted blue “glow” indicator to let you know its connected.

ConsDSC01321

  • An extra USB outlet would have been nice.
  • The memory stick reader isn’t a perfect fit. I had to insert the memory stick on a slight angle – was a bit of a knack getting the hang of it but once you worked it out wasn’t a big deal. I’ve had the same problem with other multi-card readers (like the one in my Zalman HD160 HTPC case).
  • When connecting my Blackberry via the power charger (with the included micro-USB adapter) it didn’t work. Not sure what the problem was – maybe not enough “juice”? Connected via one of the USB ports and everything was fine – connectivity and charging.

 

Conclusion

My favourite configuration for this device was to provide both charging and connectivity for my phone by using one of the USB ports rather than using the charging cable. Whilst this does mean I lose one of the two USB ports I like having the device connected for ActiveSync and for copying across podcasts.

The number one feature of this gadget for me though is that it holds the phone at a perfect viewing angle whilst connected. I would have loved one of these at my previous work desk where I would continuously have to pick the phone up to look at whether I’d missed a phone call, email or text whilst away from my desk. If that’s what you really care about then

I’m pretty happy with this gadget – it does what it says and for me it happened to come along at a time when I needed the USB and memory card features. Now all I have to do is figure out whether I keep it on the desk at home, or the one at work?

Thanks to Natalie from mobilefun.co.uk who was kind enough to send me a Desk Genie to review.

My views on Windows Phone 7 Series

I have mixed feelings about Windows Phone 7 Series. Whilst the new user interface is refreshingly different I’m not overly optimistic about its effectiveness. As more information about the new OS was made available I began to get a better idea of the target audience.

My current feeling is that Windows Phone 7 Series will become a solid offering for the mass consumer market. It will throw off the shackles of the Windows Mobile legacy and become a more stable, more consistent and vastly more appealing operating system for mobile devices. The only people that are likely to be disappointed by the new OS are the few die-hards that are currently running Windows Mobile 6.5 and below. The kind of people that wouldn’t be satisfied with an iPad when there are much more powerful and efficient means at hand. Those with such outlandish views that they believe touch interfaces (capacitive or otherwise) offer some amusement but just don’t cut it for serious tasks. People that believe copy/paste and multi-tasking are key operating system features. Alas I am once such person.

I think Windows Phone 7 Series has the potential to be very successful and I certainly hope that it is. For me a lot about having a phone is having a mobile device for which I can write applications. The ability to finally use Silverlight is something that I’m really excited about. So while the operating system itself is not something that I’m all that enthusiastic about the developer experience so far looks great.