Switching to Windows Phone 7.5

1200-nokia-lumia-800_group_uprightI’ve been a happy iOS user since the original iPhone, and have used an iPhone 4 for the last year as my mobile device. While Apple’s mobile platform is arguable a very powerful one, especially due to the number of third-party apps, I remain interested in the other mobile Operating Systems. I haven’t been “attracted” by Android devices (I haven’t tried Ice-Cream Sandwich yet) due to the fragmentation, no appealing hardware, the major lack of guarantees that you will get OS updates on your device and the “geeky” nature of the look & feel (yes, I know, strange coming from me 😉

And outside of WebOS (lucky that I didn’t go down that path), I’ve been intrigued by the Windows Phone 7 OS since its launch just over a year ago. But the first iteration of the OS was too rough around the edges, and the lack of great hardware got me to stick with iOS until now at least. During a recent trip to the UK, I decided to get myself a Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) and I have to say that outside of a few little details (see below), I am really impressed by this device!

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The iPad after two weeks

From what I can tell, there are two types of people when it comes to the iPad: those who see it as the next best thing since sliced bread, and those who think it is nothing more than an oversized previous generation iPod touch. After playing with one briefly after the launch, I was of the latter opinion. To give it another try, I was able to borrow another one for two weeks which included a business trip to Europe. While not 100% converted to the other camp, I can see how the v2 of the iPad will certainly be on my shopping list if some of my feature requests make it in (not that I expect Steve to listen 😉 )

For those who read my (very) infrequent posts, you know that I have been looking for solutions to reduce the numbers of trees needing to be cut every year in order to print all the documents I read (mainly in PDF and MS Office / WordPerfect formats). I also travel a lot, and have tried different solutions to reduce the weight of the books in my carry-on luggage (the Sony eBook reader does a good job for eBooks, but isn’t that great for PDFs). Doing email and browsing the web on the go are secondary (or so I thought) as I have an iPhone and a Sony Vaio laptop with me (and tethering works just fine in Canada with my data plan, sorry US friends).

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Trying out the new Sony Vaio Z

Sony Vaio Z VPCZ1I have to say, with all these comments about online purchasing being the future, having local retail stores that has physical goods in stock is certainly very nice… and considering that they do have a refund policy, it is the perfect opportunity to try out in depth the default version of a new device before ordering the customized one online / in store. I’ve had my eye on the Vaio Z model (VPCZ1) that Sony pre-announced at CES 2010 in January for a while, but had quite a few open questions – battery life, noise of the fan, is it getting burning hot on your lap, …

Well, the laptop is now available in its standard form (the custom built ones will be available in about a week) and I decided to go on a field trip to the nearest Sony store to have a look at it. And after playing with the device in the store, I “borrowed” one for a few days before ordering the custom one (I was upfront about that with the sales guy at the store)… and I have to say, this is one impressive little high-end laptop.

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Where is the iPhone version of Skype in Canada?

Just wanted to share a question I asked to Skype support:

I was really excited with the announcement of the iPhone version for Skype earlier this week. But when I tried to get it from the Canadian iTunes Store, it was nowhere to be found! Doing some search over the Internet, it appears Canada is the only country where the iPhone version of Skype is not available.

This is very surprising and I would like to get a better explanation as it is possible to download the Windows Mobile version from your site when in Canada, it is possible to purchase Skype WiFi phones in Canada and Skype works fine on notebooks / netbooks in Canada.

I can only suppose that there is a small delay for this and that Skype will be available shortly to people in Canada. Can you please let me know the reason why it is not yet available as well as when you expect Skype for iPhone to be available to Canadians?

Thank you for your quick answer.

And here is the answer I got back:

Thank you for contacting Skype Support.

We apologize for the inconvenience you’ve experienced while trying to download Skype for iPhone. Unfortunately, the Skype for iPhone application is not available for use in Canada at this time. There is an ambiguous restriction in one of the standards-based technology licenses, and we are looking into it. The issue is not related to Apple, nor is it specific to Skype.

Once again, we apologize for this inconvenience and would like to assure you that we are working on resolving this issue as soon as possible.

Thank you for your understanding and we hope you enjoy using Skype on your iPhone in the nearest future.

OK, there is hope, but let’s not be in a hurry.

Update (September 9, 2009): Skype for iPhone is now available in Canada! Next step, being able to do calls over 3G 😉

Packaging size matters…

In the past year, companies have started to communicate about how “green” they are. Apple for example (to pick one) has started publicly announcing how their packaging is shrinking to reduce the size needed for shipping, which I fully support. But when doing so, companies should not only consider the size of the box in which the product comes in, but also the size of the box used for shipping. Here is an example I recently encountered…

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iPhone apps: my most used list

I’ve been downloading quite a few iPhone applications since the launch of the app store… but I really don’t use most of them. Here is a short list of those I use on a regular basis and that I would highly recommend purchasing (if not available for free), in addition to the following built-in apps: SMS, Calendar, Photos, Camera, Maps, Clock, Stock, Weather, Calculator, Phone, Mail, Safari and iPod.

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MobileMe: Not as bad as people say…

Since its launch on July 11, 2008, the “new” online service from Apple had a bumpy start and reviews have been negative overall… even Walt Mossberg says that “Apple’s MobileMe Is Far Too Flawed To Be Reliable”. The problems that have plagued the service have not helped… and Apple also changed the tone of their messaging from “Exchange for the rest of us” to “The simple way to keep everything in sync”. But overall, the re-branding of .Mac and new web interface to the online service that Apple Inc charges $99 per year in the US (pricing does vary around the world, and I don’t think it will be lower) has all the base components that make it already worth for me, and that could become great with a few little “tweaks”.

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Unfounded rumor: iPhone 2 will be unlocked

OK, we are about 3 weeks (my guesstimate) of knowing what will really happen with the iPhone 2, which is widely expected to be announced at the WWDC conference. Over the last few weeks, more and more mobile operators around the world have announced the upcoming availability of the cell phone from Apple on their network in many different countries (the iPhone blog has a good summary post). Looking as this list getting longer and longer almost every day, this can only mean one thing in my mind: the iPhone 2.0 will be unlocked.

Update (June 10, 2008): OK, my unfounded rumor was completely wrong… that must be why it was unfounded 😉

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Having fun with air… and being really happy with it

MacBook AirIve been thinking about a sub-notebook for quite a while. The one I was looking at last summer was the Toshiba Portégé R500, a great little device (at least according to the specs) with a long battery life and an option to get an SSD hard drive for snappy reaction times and no moving parts. The reason for my interest for a sub-notebook is that when I travel, I always carry around my work laptop, which is a Lenovo T61, a 15.4” wide-screen device with a battery life of about 3 hours (I do have the extended battery), and that I also carry my private computer for my photos, my music and my own stuff.

When Apple announced the MacBook Air, I looked at it with an intrigued eye, but didn’t place the order immediately (I know, really amazing) as I was still quite happy with my original 15” MacBook Pro (the Core Duo version). But then, walking into an Apple Store in Montréal, I saw the Air and by the time I left the mall, I had one of the SSD based model in a small bag specifically designed for it, looking forward to experience it fully during a three weeks trip to Australia and Taiwan. In Summary: I love it!

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iTunes / AppleTV movie rentals: a user point of view

At MacWorld in January 2008, Apple announced the shift from purchasing videos through iTunes to renting them (from the US store for now, with other countries to certainly follow). At the same time, they introduced updates to the software for iPods, iPhones and the Apple TV to make it all work together. And the other big news was the introduction of a digital copy on certain DVDs you can buy in stores (in North America). At about the same time, the “war” between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray is (already? / finally?) coming to an end with the solution backed by Sony in the lead. Having (almost) all the devices that form the iTunes ecosystem, I needed to give it a try.
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MacBook Air Multi-touch trackpad + airplane power = Interferences?

Comfortably sitting on a 15+ hours Air Canada flight between Vancouver, Canada and Sydney, Australia, I was looking forward to experiencing my MacBook Air for a longer period of time. Good news, I got plenty of battery time (above 5 hours) with normal usage and with all wireless disabled.

But after 5+ hours of usage, I needed to recharge the battery. Good news, there was a 110V power plug in the seat, so I connect my power adapter. And then, I get a huge surprise… the multi-touch trackpad starts behaving in a very strange way… the cursor starts jumping across the screen, when in the finder, the desktop icons change sizes… and as soon as I disconnect the power, everything is back to normal. I was therefore able to watch a movie on the Air, but every time I needed to move the cursor, I had to disconnect the power cord first???

I will try this again on my flight back, and if the problem is still there, I will report the details to Apple. It sounds really strange that a sub-notebook designed for road-warriors could have problems when used in a typical scenario for the target audience.