Category Archives: Windows Phone

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

Charles Petzold at the NYC .NET Developers Group

Tonight I went along to the New York City .NET User Group to watch Charles Petzold presenting on Windows Phone 7. It was fun to see Petzold in person and though its obvious he’s more an author than a public speaker he still did a great job. He was very well prepared for the talk and did his best to accommodate the somewhat rowdy crowd. The talk was an introduction to the Windows Phone 7 development experience with a focus on the application lifecycle – specifically tombstoning. This seemed to be at the right level for the crowed as far as I could tell – it seemed the majority of people there knew very little about the new platform.

I’d never been to a NYC .NET Developers Group meeting before. There was a pretty good turnout, well over a hundred people. For me though the event was certainly tarnished by the general lack of organization and some inane questions/observations from the audience.

Firstly the pizzas. Charles did a very polished job of starting his talk with a reflection on how mobile devices have become ubiquitous. He then manoeuvred this into an introduction of Windows Phone 7. He had his talk prepared on a set of notes which he would keep glancing at, but I began not to notice that as I was drawn into the talk. At about 10 minutes in just as he has found his stride and captured the audience the pizzas arrived. Some people didn’t even wait for Charles to stop speaking, they just got up and went to the back of the room to help themselves. Eventually one of the organizers walked up the front and cut Charles off mid-sentence – suggesting now would be a good time for a break. I think his response was something like “ah… err… yeah ok”.

Then there were the questions from the audience. A few people asked questions during the talk. In my mind it wasn’t really appropriate given the size of the audience and the style of presentation – more of a keynote. However, Charles hadn’t asked people to leave questions to the end and I understand that people are probably used to asking questions during a user group presentation. What was really annoying though were some of the questions themselves. Interrupting someone to ask them whether xyz is supported when it should have been clear he was just about to get to that. At the end of the session one guy from the audience went on a completely misinformed rave about the price of phones (including the prices in Pakistan!) , another was asking what video formats were supported, etc. These questions couldn’t be answered by Charles and the organizers (or Microsoft) hadn’t thought to have someone up front with him to answer them. Charles managed to stay very well composed throughout.

One more amusing crowd moment was during the impromptu pizza break. Charles was patiently waiting for us all so a few attendees quite understandably took the opportunity to get a book signed, introduce themselves or ask some questions about the phone or his upcoming book. Charles was actually using his Windows Phone 7 device to run the PowerPoint presentation for his talk. He had the device setup at the front on a stand with a video camera so it could be projected onto the screens. So he’s standing there talking to a few people with the phone next to him on the stand at the current PowerPoint slide. One guy walks up and asks if he can play with the phone. “What now? Err.. . no.”. I’m sure the guy was just eager to get his hands on a real device but imagine someone asking you if they can play with your laptop half way through giving a well scripted talk/demo to a packed room of people? Seriously? Oh well… I got a chuckle out of it.

Word Puzzle to Sliverlight Phone–Part 3

Last night I dusted off Word Puzzle and decided to try out tombstoning in Window Phone 7 – just to see how much of a pain this is really going to be. The first hurdle I had was to convert the existing solution from the Windows Phone CTP to the Beta release. This turned out to be quite a bit harder than I had expected. On the upside I got a pretty good idea of some of the changes that were made – ditching the resource files, using the manifest to nominate the launch window, assembly consolidation etc.

Once I had eventually gotten it to work with the Beta I decided to create a Settings page so that I could:
1) test the navigation and
2) have a simplified state object to persist to the application cache whilst de-activating.

The settings page looked like this:

WordPuzzle_Stage3_Settings

It was bound to some of the properties on my pre-existing LetterBoardSetup class, e.g. AllowBackwards, AllowDiagonal, Width, Height.

I added the following code to my App.xaml.cs file and everything worked just fine.

private void Application_Activated(object sender, ActivatedEventArgs e)
{
var myState = PhoneApplicationService.Current.State;
settings = myState["settings"] as LetterBoardSetup;
}
private void Application_Deactivated(object sender, DeactivatedEventArgs e)
{
var myState = PhoneApplicationService.Current.State;
myState["settings"] = settings;
}

When the application de-activates the state is saved, then restored correctly on re-activation. I decided to move on and save off the actual game state. The easiest (laziest) way to save the game state seemed to be to just save off the entire object graph (after all we are talking about a very trivial game here). Several of my classes had private setters for public properties. No problem I figured – I’ll just use DataContract from System.Runtime.Serialization namespace/assembly. This does all sorts of wonderful things – like allowing private fields to be serialized, creating instances without invoking any constructors and the like. At least I thought that’s how it worked – and on the full .NET framework I would have been right. Through trial and error I determined that the Silverlight version doesn’t have these capabilities – classes are required to have public setters and getters for properties (yuerk!).

So – in the mindset of just “getting it done” I went through and opened up my object model – changing private setters to public, making getters do “on-demand” construction for things like collections etc. to make it more serialization friendly.

Now I have a version of WordPuzzle that runs in the emulator and survives tombstoning with absolutely no data loss. Should I ever want to I also now have a version that could easily allow games to be saved. In fact all that’s really left to do is find a couple of images for the application bar buttons – oh – and actually make the game play itself something slightly more err… exciting.

Word Puzzle to Silverlight Phone – Part 2

Finally got interaction and feedback happening on the Silverlight port of Word Puzzle. This was so much more difficult than I had imagined – feels like learning WPF from scratch. I am beginning to believe that it would be easier to approach Silverlight with no WPF knowledge whatsoever.

  • I had to cater for not having DataTriggers – and then not being able to get behaviours/triggers/states to work like I wanted. In the end I used a ValueConverter to hack the selection and solved colours – yuk!
  • Had some weird issues with the MouseMove event – had to use CaptureMouse to get position readings outside the original UI element – wasn’t a requirement for WPF.
  • Spent ages working through really minor bugs that just aren’t reported properly in Silverlight. Things as simple as referencing a resource that doesn’t exist (due to misspelling) generates a super generic error message.
  • Had to create a proper custom layout panel for the words to position and rotate the highlight boxes. This was actually an improvement on the original version.

Anyhow – now have a playable version on the emulator. Slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

WordPuzzle_Stage2  WordPuzzle_Stage2_EndGame

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.

Porting WPF Word Puzzle to Windows Phone Silverlight – Part 1

To date I’ve avoided doing any serious development in Silverlight. Every time I’ve tried to tackle it I get so frustrated with all the missing pieces. Besides which I’ve never had a good reason to do any Silverlight work – I’ve never been a fan of applications that run in a browser.

With the release of the Windows Phone Series development tools however, I now have a good reason. So I figured I’d pick a relative simple, small scale WPF application that actually makes some sense to run on a mobile device. Rather than starting it from scratch I just wanted to port it from WPF – so I chose the Word Puzzle program that I wrote a couple of years back. I figured it was a good choice because it met the criteria above, plus I’d already stripped it back a little to make sure it could run as an XBAP application.

Inspired by Rob’s posts on porting NProf to Silverlight I thought it may be of some interest to list off the issues that I come up against as I go through the process of porting. This first list represents me starting a new Windows Phone project and copying over classes and XAML files to get something to compile and look recognizable. The following represents about 2 hours work:

WordPuzzle_Stage1

However, along the way I came across this list of issues:

  • No Viewbox
  • No MouseDown or MouseUp
  • No UniformGrid
  • No Image.StretchDirection
  • x:Type is not supported
  • No Style.Triggers
  • No DockPanel
  • No RoutedCommand
  • No KeyGesture
  • No DataType on DataTemplate?
  • No ValueConversion
  • No DefiningGeometry on Shape
  • No BooleanToVisibilityConverter
  • No DynamicResource
  • No WrapPanel

I haven’t verified the above list yet – save that they gave me compilation errors. I easily found a replacement UniformGrid, but there are a few items on the list that may pose more of a problem.

The next step is to get some level of interaction working.