Friday, March 26, 2010

Wish I could say I was there

But I can say I have been there, but it was a lot colder :-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade #Orange #Fail

Well, what a difference a day makes. Sad to say I have reverted to Windows Mobile 6.1 on my Touch Pro2 phone. Whilst the ability to get a better signal is really good, and the new interface is more colourful there were 2 major fails in the upgrade for me. And then things got more interesting…

So what’s wrong with WinMo6.5 over 6.1

Item 1: WiFi
In 6.1 there is a useful checkbox on the WiFi setup that says “disable wifi after signal is lost”. This is designed to prevent you wasting battery life hunting for signals when you leave the house/office. However in my situation I deliberately leave this unchecked as I work from home, and the WiFi signal drops out briefly between house and the barn, and also in some areas of the house (early 19th Century brick walls attenuate WiFi quite well).

What this meant for me was that I would have to knowingly switch off WiFi on leaving the house (and back on when returning), but it protected me from the signal dropping out and then reverting my phone to GSM data and then potentially going over my data allocation and incurring costs. This could mean £££ to me.

Worse still – when 6.5 loses WiFi, it sometimes drops the icon, and sometimes doesn’t. I also found that the WiFi icon could still be on the taskbar, but in fact WiFi was off, and therefore GSM data was being consumed. This is, quite frankly, unacceptable. There is no excuse for a system that informs you that you are not spending money, when in fact you are.

Item 2: Application status.
My method of using the phone for work is not especially demanding (I think), but of pretty high importance to me.

These days I use RSS feeds and Twitter to get a shedload of data to me, and consumed (or ignored!) without spending too much time on it.

So Working Practice number 1 is to have a Twitter reader (Twikini at first, but now moTweets) open and then either a) jump to referenced URL’s or b) email the tweet to myself or others. As soon as the tweet is dealt with, move on the next and so on. It generates a bit of firehose data for my inbox, but it traps information and enables me to go back to it or search later.

Working Practice number 2 is to use Google Reader (as there is not RSS reader for WinMo that allows me to read across all feeds in date/time order) and likewise email links to me or others, or mark as favourites. Again, as soon as the email is done I like to go back to IE/opera and read the next blog entry

Well, after the upgrade to 6.5 the applications I use no longer retain context and status. In a horrible foreshadowing of Windows Phone 7 Series the applicatations (moTweets, Opera, Twikini) restart when I switch back.

So for Twitter apps – they refresh, and I lose my place
For a browser it goes back to my home page.

This utterly destroys the way I work. The phone became an expensive paperweight almost immediately.

Bear in mind that I've been a adopter of Windows Mobile since the original iPAQ came out, and have stuck with it until (with 6.1 on the Touch Pro2) it acheived a capabilty that was finally good enough, and one I feel i can unabigously evangelise.  So to want to revert, or have a paperweight phone was not something i felt good about.

Then it got interesting.

Orange Fail
En route to my parents for the Rugby matches yesterday I rang orange business support and after some umming and erring, and a discussion with senior tech support I was called back within the hour (good!), to say – yes this was by design.

So I asked to revert to 6.1, could they send me the URL to the correct ROM and therefore I’d put the time in.

At this point Orange said that they could not do this – because of licencing with Microsoft, HTC and Orange were “not allowed” to provide the means to go back in operating system levels. Indeed Orange say that if you send in a 6.1 phone to them, they will upgrade it to 6.5 for you before shipping back – appaling news to hear. They also said that there were no legitimate means to do this, and although I could use XDA developers or similar, I would lose support.

I fumed.

Then I got to my parents and got on the net. Looking here I found that what might be Touch Pro2 Orange Windows Mobile 6.1 ROM (it’s the Orange_UK file dated 2009-09-28). I downloaded it before it could be removed (!) and applied it to the phone. To my delight no warning about downgrading the phone was shown, and after a couple of reboots my 6.1 phone was back.
The extra bonus for me is that I have a fairly recent email from Orange Support that says for the Touch Pro2, any file from HTC is supported – so if I have a problem I can qute that and have Orange continue to support my phone

Albeit after that I needed to connect to Exchange and My Phone to get most of my data back, and then re-install applications.

But – I can work as before; and I have acheived something Orange said could not be done. 

My thanks to HTC for keeping the ROM builds up there

Friday, March 19, 2010

First thoughts on Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade (HTC Touch Pro2 - OrangeUK)

Well, I bit the bullet yesterday.  For some time I've been hovering over the decision to upgrade the Touch Pro 2 to 6.5, and as it was now clearly on Orange's website I decided (given I was not OOF for a bit) to have a go.

Firstly - backups.
  • I have a fully encrypted phone, so I connected in high speed disk mode and copied off the 8GB SD card
  • then the contents of My Documents
  • all photos and videos that I'd not already moved
  • Synced the phone so that calendar, email, contacts, and most importantly OneNote Mobile documents are safe
  • Finally a quick sync to Microsoft's MyPhone service to protect texts, IE Favourites, any remaining photos/videos and so on
The download is 166MB and the link Orange give you takes you directly to the HTC site, so that is cause for comfort. Once downloaded, my 64bit Windows 7 machine decided that it could not properly see the phone during the upgrade process and barfed.
[Updated: Actually a link to the Orange page might be useful here :-) Orange HTC Page]

So moving over to the trusty 2004 vintage XP laptop, I re-ran the setup.  It was quick and easy - about the promised 10 minutes or so.  And then the reboot.

All came up well, and first impressions:
  • well the extra colour is nice, but doesn't really do anything for me
  • The program and settings list are more fat finger friendly
  • initial sync to the Exchange Server seemed to take an absolute age and was disappointingly slow.  I left it overnight in the end.
  • restore from MyPhone was great!
  • the lock function, takes more actinos, but looks better locked, and unlocks are more fat-finger friendly.
  • my encrypted SD card just worked - I guess the encryption is handset specific and not OS specific.  That's good
  • Re-installing apps is a bit of a bind, but it's a good exercise to make sure you have all source available to you

The most amazing thing though - i get 1 or 2 more bars of signal strength.  Where I live and work the Orange signal fades out, just as it gets to the building walls.  This time, at home in the evening, i was seeing 3 or even 4 bars of signal strength.  Today, in the office, I see 3 instead of 1.  That alone makes it worth it.

The downside - finding things.  I suppose I'll get used to the interface, but changing WiFi network seems to be many more clicks than before.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I always knew I was uncomfortable with Nerd and Dork...

And as for dweeb...

now, thanks to laughingsquid I have the proof.  I am comfortable being thought of as a Geek.
hat tip to laughing squid

Monday, March 08, 2010

Tip for the WinMo HTC TP2 users

I was recently in a location with free Wi-Fi. Nothing strange there, but the location insisted on some strange cookie capability to allow me on the network. So my Twitter client and MyPhone would not work. Using the default browser Orange/HTC give me (Opera) also failed.
So I fired up Pocket IE for the first time in ages. Lo and behold - the cookie (it seemed to be MAC related name which I suppose for was some security theatre) was created and then everything worked fine thereafter.
So maybe there is a point to keeping IE on the phone...

Sunday, March 07, 2010

If it wasn't so serious it'd be funny #NHS #FAIL

The BBC report above shows the NHS in my County managed to breach Data Protection Guidelines. This came 2 days after I received my letter from the NHS saying they would put my medical details on the NHS Spine.

There were a few reasons I was annoyed to receive the letter:
1. I had already informed the NHS last year that, for reasons of trust (or distrust) in UK Government Data Security I did not want my medical details on a database open to potentially over a million NHS staff.
2. I was told in the letter I could opt out.
3. When I called the helpline I was told I had to download a form or get a copy from (place unknown) and fill it in and send off
4. When I pointed out I had already opted out, I was told that I would need confirmation from the NHS I had opted out - I questioned whether an email from the NHS domain confirming my opt out was confirmation...
5. After 3 iterations of 3 & 4 the telephone monkey gave up
6. I now have a registered complaint with the NHS team which will take 2-3 WEEKS to respond to.

I assert that if the NHS team handling the transfer of data to the Spine cannot even keep basic information about 'we are transfering you' confidential, then I am damn sure they won't be able to keep my medical records safe.

I reckon there is a secret Government lottery that the last person in the country to have some personal data lost by a government agency wins a prize. Obviously over 25m are already out thanks to HMRC, as are soldiers, prison officers, SAS members, police informers...

A quarter century regression

Today was a first in far too long.

Late last year I visited RAF Cosford with a friend to see the James May 1:1 Spitfire Airfix kit. Inspired we both found a couple of large boxes of Airfix kits that were irresistible and hid them in the boot of the car for a few days :-)

Since then various work issues and family health issues have kept me very distracted and the boxes have lain idle.
But today, as a treat to myself I abandoned the computers for a bit and dug out my white spirit, modelling knife, brushes and some very old Humbrol paint tins.

Model number 1 today is a Meteor from late W.W.II and whilst Airfix now include paints, I was pleased to find that the old Humbrol tins were needed for the airman's hands, face, boots, helmet and lifejacket. What's more I reckon my ancient paints are in better shape than the fresh stuff!

Interestingly, since I last modelled my eyes have deteriorated to bifocal needs. This meant at times I could not focus properly, but on the other hand I'm clearly more patient as I reckon this is one of my better paint jobs!

So, when bad light stopped play, there was the second upper surface camouflage paint to do, and a few bits on the wheels and engine exhausts. Once they're done it'll be cutting out, gluing and paint touch up and then my first model in years will be done.

It's been so many years, but it's like yesterday as well. Can't wait to finish this one and build up to the Battle Of Britain Memorial kit. Then I can go shopping again :-)

Updated: And of course, yes, I'll post a photo once it's complete!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dinner :-)

Our Happiness 2

Mum, want to join us ? :-)

Our Happiness 1

Aged P retrieves wind blown cap!

At the Lochnagar crater, Somme Battlefield

Back into the town

And a good final note

Into sunlight and the museum gardens

And L'Ancre (the local river) - you don't suppose Terry Pratchett had this in mind?

The detritus of war

West Riding and Yorkshire name badges

At the Somme museum.

Deep in the bowels of the earth

Is the Somme museum at Albert.

Opened in 1994 in ancient tunnels converted for WWII bomb shelters, but now renovated and commemorating the fallen of WWI.

I'm in the region taking my Father to see the memorials for his 2 Great Uncles who died in the Somme on
* 1st July (day 1) 1916 - body not found/identified so commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial
* 3rd September - buried at Bernafay Wood.
Both memorials are about 10 minutes from Albert - along with what seems 100,000's of others. The region is packed with cemeteries, all wonderfully looked after.

And all a dreadful reminder of events nearlt 100 years ago

Not your average train station fixture!

Albert Nord station, on the Somme

Tuesday, March 02, 2010