# Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Because my wife was complaining that I got way too many Nerf guns, I promised her that I’ll only get guns that have a different design compared to any one I’ve already owned.

Well… out comes the Nerf Barricade which uses a sort of motorised dart launcher mechanism instead of a traditional pump. So… new mechanism means…

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Brand new gun! Yippee!!! One of the main difference is that this gun CANNOT be used without batteries, because unlike the Vulcan there is no manual mechanism to shoot darts with.

All it has is an on/off switch, which uses some very interesting markings instead of the standard on/off marking.

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Off is basically indicated by a no shot icon, whereas on is indicated by a burst mode icon.

The 3 AA batteries that power the gun are contained behind this battery door.

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The dart chamber is capable of holding 10 rounds.

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The firing mechanism is interesting, when a chamber is rotated into firing position the dart is pushed forward into the barrel and…

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See the 2 pink gears at the bottom of the barrel, when you turn the gun on they start spinning, and when a dart is pushed into the barrel the gears basically grip the dart and accelerates it out the barrel.

There are 2 interesting things about the gun, the first is that it shoots surprisingly fast, almost as fast as you can pull the trigger. The second is that because the gears are constantly spinning as long as its on, it’s constantly draining power from the batteries… So battery life is suspect for this gun.

It’s a very interesting design, it’s compact, high capacity and high rate of fire is enticing, but the fact remains that it is a potential battery hog.

And here's a video.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010 19:01:22 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 

After using my LG Optimus Windows Phone 7 for a while now I’ve decided to come up with a little FAQ for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 release in Malaysia to help users get up to speed with their new device.

Is Windows Phone released jn Malaysia yet?
(Updated 13th Jan 2011) Windows Phone 7 phones are now available in Malaysia.

Do I need a Windows PC to use the phone?
No, you only need to install the Zune application on your PC if you wish to copy files from the phone to your pc for backup. (This is the only way to backup full sized pictures and video recording from your camera) or if you want to put media onto the phone

Can I use a Mac instead?
A Beta Mac client has been released, I personally am not sure how well it works though.

Is a Windows Live ID required to use the phone?
You don't NEED a Live ID to use the phone, but you do need one to make full use of the phone’s features.

Microsoft's official statement says that Marketplace and xbox live is not supported in Malaysia,how would a user go about getting apps for the phone then?
This is an extremely complicated topic, so complicated that it needs its own post so load this link in a new tab.

Is it TRUE that we can't use our own songs as ringtones?
Not only is that true, the included ringtones are poorly suited for the task of alerting you to pick up the phone. This should be addressed in a future update

So... No copy and paste?
Yup.. Also coming in a later update.

And no multitasking?
Yup, no multitasking right now. The developers will have to pull a few tricks to give you the illusion of multitasking. Sorta like the PalmOS in its early days.

Is the load speed for apps slow?
Depends on a lot of factors, what does the app do on startup? Does if hit the network before showing anything on the screen? Did the device manufacturer use fast storage RAM? Feels quite ok on my LG Optimus, not sure about the rest.

What's this about MicroSD cards being permanently tied to the phone after they are inserted?
As a form of DRM to protect the contents of the phone, and in the best interest of content developers the SD card will actually have its security features activated. Once active not many other devices would know how to deal with it. Therefore right now, after you insert a MicroSD into a Windows Phone 7 device. It’s possible that no other device can use it for now. Here’s a link that points to more info.

What kind of media files are supported?
Through the Zune application, the phone will play MP3, WMA and unprotected AAC. FLAC is not supported, nor is OGG. Videos in supported formats will be transcoded to WMV format to be viewable on the phone.

Update 18th November 2010 : Using the method described in this link you can gain access to the media folders and DIRECTLY copy any supported file into the device bypassing the transcoding process. So far the best format I can get it to play is MP4 container, 720P H.264, AAC audio. With the help of the method in the above link, it is now possible to view XVID files WITHOUT REENCODING using the method which I describe here.

Can I read PDF files?
Yes, there's a basic PDF reader made by Adobe in the marketplace. I call it BASIC since other than the fact that it can read PDF files (quite well actually, handling a 1000+ page book pretty well) it doesn’t have a last read position feature, doesn’t have an insert bookmark feature… heck it doesn’t even have a GO TO PAGE NUMBER X feature, damn that makes it VERY VERY unfeasible to read that 1000+ page book! But then since it’s a program… it can be upgraded

How do I copy files such as PDFs, Word, Excel files to my phone?
Microsoft's recommendations are to mail them to yourself, I figured out a better solution.

How do I copy said files out from the phone then?
Mail them to yourself.... Sorry I don't have a better idea for this one yet.

Can it handle Chinese SMS?
It can receive them just fine, but to send them you'll have to make use of an app called 'Chinese SMS' that's free costs a small sum on the marketplace for now.

Update 18th November 2010 : Program costs money now!

How capable is Internet Explorer on Windows Phone 7?
Yes, Windows Phone 7’s IE doesn’t support HTML5. I’d think most mobile HTML5 sites are mainly catered for the iOS devices anyway. In normal usage IE is quite capable, it has pretty decent Javascript support and can handle normal websites quite well. It’s not perfect but it’s definetly what you can call a modern mobile web browser.

No plugin support then?
Just ask the real question you want to ask!

No Flash support then?
Not yet, Adobe says it’s coming.. But whenever that is… it’s not now.

What’s this WiFi bug that’s been going around?
There’s no way to connect to a non SSID broadcasting WiFi access point in Windows Phone 7. Also, it can only get it’s IP configuration through DHCP so static IP are also a problem.

Is there a Windows Live Messenger app for WP7?
There is one in the Marketplace right now, but it’s not an official one by Microsoft. And based on all the bad reviews the app is getting, seems like it doesn’t work too well. But… there is a way to get a… sort of Live Messenger app if you really need to chat with someone. Browse to http://mim.live.com on your Windows Phone 7 device and you’ll gain access to the Mobile Web version of Live Messenger, which works pretty well even if you might have to end up refreshing the page manually to see if new chats come in.

Can Windows Phone 7 replace my GPS? (25th Nov 2010)
The Maps application included in the phone doesn’t work that well here in Malaysia yet so the answer is NO. But check out the details here.

Can I sync my stuff from Outlook to the phone? (Updated 8th Jan 2011)
The answer to the question is both YES and NO, while you CAN get information from Outlook to your phone. It's not as straight forward as with Active Sync previously and also right now there's no way to sync Tasks and ToDo items. For more details check out this KB Article. Important Note (8th Jan 2011) : There seems to be a bug where editing a contact information in Outlook… makes you appear offline to that contact if it's an IM user, I have no idea why this is happening, but you need to be mindful of this.

I Keep Accidentally Hitting The Windows Or Search Buttons And Losing Everything I Was Working On (3rd March 2011)
The scenario is this, you're playing Puzzle Quest 2 on your HD7 and then your thumb accidentally swipes pass the Windows button and the game goes away as the Start screen shows up and you lose your game progress, damn those capacitive buttons! What happen was that the absence of traditional multitasking, and the app's developer not being able to handle Windows Phone 7 tombstoning effectively would have caused the app to lose whatever it is you were working on.

This is especially problematic on devices that don't have PHYSICAL buttons cause it's so easy to accidentally press capacitive buttons. What I just found out is that if you quickly press BACK after hitting the Windows or Search buttons there's a chance that you can get back to the app BEFORE the OS kills it. Keyword here is QUICKLY, you have to be fast about it! It might not always work, but if something good to know.

That’s what I have right now, feel free to post any new questions for me to add to this list.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010 11:57:11 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [4]  | 
# Monday, 08 November 2010

And now for my continuing adventures experimenting with Windows Live ID on my LG Optimus. Today was to test if I can actually BUY something if I had a working credit card attached to the Windows Live ID account on my phone. The reason I am worried that this might not work is because of this.

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The phone has it’s originating telco information embedded in its firmware, as you can see my LG Optimus is from Singtel. And from all the reviews I’ve heard on the web, purchases made on the phone are charged to the telco bill. As I’m using a Maxis SIM card in the phone I wasn’t sure what would happen.

But luckily, when I choose to bought a game the phone just mentioned that my credit card would be charged and that was the end of that.

So… in summary. If you have an Windows Live ID account which you managed to attach a working credit card to, YES, YOU CAN BUY STUFF FROM THE WINDOWS PHONE MARKETPLACE.

And I thought my crazy adventures with Windows Live ID was done with until I fired up Zune and logged in to the Singapore account attached to the phone now, at which point Zune greeted me with this.

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Granted the change is simple enough, and the dialog box tells you what to do to change your PC’s region (What it doesn’t tell you is that after you make the setting, you need to restart the Zune application) Like one of my friend’s mentioned “WTF?!?!?!” Yes… WTF indeed…


Monday, 08 November 2010 23:02:53 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 07 November 2010

Ok, before I head in to talk about the things I like about Windows Phone 7. Let’s me just get the stuff which I don’t like out of the way first.

No Copy And Paste

It’s terribly inconvenient to not be able to Copy and Paste, but the update is coming next year and based on how you can move the cursor in textboxes I guess part of the mechanics are in already. So it’s not something that’s haunting me right now, but if I don’t mention it some people will just say I’m not pointing out an obvious failure of the platform.

What I am REALLY HATING about Windows Phone 7 now is the fact that.

Unable To Set My Own Ringtones

I’m sure you would have already heard that you can’t set your own songs as ringtones on this current Windows Phone 7 release. Which I really didn’t expect to be a problem initially, after all this is a software issue and can be fixed sooner or later. But what I wasn’t expecting was…

The Included Ringtones Aren’t Good Ringtones

The ringtones included in the phone are nice little melodies, but they lack one important quality which is needed as a ringtone… They don’t SCREAM “YOUR PHONE IS RINGING, PICK IT UP NOW!” So that’s the main problem with the included alerts.

No Real Multitasking

Not exactly something that is bugging me right now, most applications which aren’t games pop up pretty fast so I don’t feel that its too much of a bother. I guess if I play a lot of games I might find it more problematic, the situation should improve once developers get a hang of how the suspension system works.

Not too many things to worry about right now since it’s just the first version of the product.


Sunday, 07 November 2010 21:12:02 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 05 November 2010

(I lost my previous sacarstic post when Live Writer crashed without an auto save, damn!)

While Windows Phone 7 supports the viewing of Office files, PDFs, etc. etc. To get them onto the device you have to either email them to yourself, or upload them to a website then download file using Internet Explorer. You can’t just directly copy the file from your PC to your phone using the Zune application.

Since it’s possible to download a file through IE and have the phone save it, I decided to just write a simple webserver program.

serverui

You select a folder to point the webserver to (just fill it with normal files, no ASPX or VB or what not, it’ll blow up most likely) Key in a different network port if it doesn’t work when you click Start Service.

Update 18th November 2010 : You CANNOT Copy media files to your device this way, only documents. Specifically things that I do know that work are Office documents, PDFs if you have Adobe Reader installed, and images

Also when you click Start Service, Windows Firewall might come up and ask you to allow network connections which you obviously should.

After the server is started you’ll see the list of locations that your phone (Which should obviously be connected to the same network as the PC through WiFi) should be able to access the webserver, just browse to those addresses on the phone’s IE and you’ll be able to access the files and save them to your phone.

You need .Net Framework 3.5 to run the program, but it should already be included on Windows 7. The usual there are no warranties or guarantees that the program doesn’t cause your PC to spontaneously explode should be observed.

Also note that running a full fledged webserver when you don't need to is technically a bad security practice, so do close the program when you're done with it.

If anyone wants to point out any program that already performs a similar function and saying mine sucks and all, please remember that I’m a software programmer and I tend to write code for no reason other than to write code.

ps. Sometimes weird things seem to happen to the browser when you open video files this way, so if you find yourself greeted with a completely white browser page on refresh, try closing the tab and using another one.

Update 10th November : If your Internet Explorer just seems to take a long while to load and nothing comes out, try closing the tab and opening a new one. Sometimes it seems like the phone can’t decide between using WiFi or the mobile data network to access an address.

Update 13th November : Here's a how to use Video!


Friday, 05 November 2010 23:54:40 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |