A gift or two for your Windows Phone 7

17 12 2010

As a follow-on to my last post, I thought I would quickly note a couple things that would help anyone looking for a last-minute gadget gift for their Windows Phone 7 owner.

The list isn’t really long, but these are things I have bought and am using or have just started using (so I can’t say I have a billion hours clocked on them yet).  But, I don’t get any of this stuff for free, so I can’t just go buy anything else if this stuff doesn’t make me 100% happy… all I can do is update this post later with further thoughts.

A plug for the arts

First, as a request – if you order anything from Amazon.com (which I link to here), I would humbly request that you click-through a non-profit theatre company’s Amazon Associates link to help give them a 4% boost from your purchase.  It costs you nothing, and helps them produce amazing theatre.

Read about UponTheseBoards.org

So, CTRL-click their Amazon link and start shopping (or shop, come back here, and click, then finish I guess).

Items to consider

Cradling your phone:

Previously I said that the USB port location is NOT standard in any of the WP7 hardware.  So it is very unlikely that a standard phone cradle will exist.  And it is probably unlikely that a GPS enhancing cradle will come out anytime soon (like the ones for the iPhone).

So I bought this one, and it works very well.  It’s cheap, works great, and fits all sorts of phones securely while giving you charging access (although that part’s clumsy).

Satechi SCR-31

Listening to your phone:

I have owned a lot of headsets.  I was going to buy one of the new Motorola’s (HX1) back when they introduced the “new” bone conduction, noise cancellation, wind reduction models.  But, it was too expensive, and only Verizon or Sprint carried it for a while.  So, a few friends got it and liked it.  I waited.  And now a different version of it came out.

I have sideburns (though am not a hipster), so I always wonder how much that gets in the way of conversations on some headsets.  This headset seems to work over my glasses, pairs to 2 phones, has the same technology (v2.0), and has a more secure over-the-ear fit.  And, it has the same charging micro-USB charging tip as the Kindle, our phone, etc.

I haven’t clocked much talk time with it, but it feels way better than previous headsets.  So, the fit is better, and the pairing etc. was as you’d expect.  The lady in the headset is informative (and seems to get along with the lady in the phone) and I like the physical on/off switch.  Voice command works great, and it has a physical mute switch.  Nice.

Motorola Oasis Headset

Retractable cable:

These things are expensive, fragile, and of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV). But, ZipLinq make the stoutest of these types of cables.  And, they know it. So, put some of that college fund aside if you want one.

Retractable cable

Windows Live Domains:

Ha… you wonder why this is in here?

Do you host your email somewhere else?  Would you like 25GB of your own SkyDrive?  How about some good SPAM filtering?  Or decent Web Mail?  How about a personal domain name and a place to sync and store your Windows Phone 7 stuff?  Or personal Live Mesh and remote desktop support?

Well, it’s pretty easy, but way beyond the scope of this article and would involve changing your LiveID on your phone… however, it all might be worth it.

Head over to http://domains.live.com and see about taking your email away from your current domain host (just your email mind you), and you can set up your email, get a SkyDrive, a photo site, your own Messenger domain, etc.  All for free.

If your domain name has some questionable word in it, you may have to appeal to the gods for a dispensation.  My domain name “CumulusLight.com”, a photography site, seemed to be “dirty” to them.  Warning: there are no dirty pictures there. Sorry.

But, once you get in there, you can offer your family membership to your domain and have a shared (and private) Calendar, photos etc.

Plus, now that Windows Live Mail is all ActiveSync, and there’s an Outlook Connector, the iPhone (in iOS 4.x) supports multiple ActiveSync accounts, and of course Windows Live Mail and Windows Phone 7 support Live Mail… well, it makes things very nice.

Apple Mail (on the Mac itself) is way stupid.  So, if you have Mac users, please consider buying mBox for them.  It’s $20 and you’ll save many many headaches.  Plus, there’s Live Mesh for the Mac, and you’ll be able to sync big files around to each other.

One warning: you CAN upload all your email from another account there into your new Live Mail domain.  4 things to know:

  1. You will be making a DNS change, so update your old account settings with the IP address of your old mail server, test that, and then move your mail domain to Live Domains.
  2. Live Mail has a DAILY UPLOAD LIMIT on it.  I’m not sure if it is quantity or size of the uploaded messages.  However, if you drag 1,500 messages into your new Live Mail account, expect the process to finish in 3 days.  Not because it takes that long, but because of the limit.  Live Mail and the Outlook Connect with give you ZERO FEEDBACK about what’s going on.  To me, that’s a huge mistake.  Don’t panic though.  Just wait.
  3. During a time of a big upload like that, you will NOT receive email in Live Mail or in Oulook on that account.  But you will get email.  You’ll have to use Web mail.  So leave Live Mail open and the computer on.  Or just do it in batches of 100 or 200 a day.
  4. Changes you make on Live Domains happen pretty quick, but do need to propagate like DNS changes – so expect to wait a couple hours for full functionality.  A few things you can do let you “Refresh” to see changes.  Sometimes you’ll see something changed, and refresh the page, and see that it hasn’t changed… this is because it is propagating through the server farm.  Be patient.

OK.  I promised this would be short.  My wrists haven’t recovered from the last post yet.

Enjoy some holiday cheer and travel safely!  And, if you’d like to support this blog somehow, consider buying a print from CumulusLight (I have Coupon Authority – so contact about special offers)!





Why removing “Drive Extender” from the next Windows Home Server is bad product management

29 11 2010

Yeah, I should have posted at least once more this year.  But I guess it takes something of epic frustration to prod me into re-prioritizing my schedule right now.  Removing a technology called “Drive Extender” from Windows Home Server is just the right move to get my fingers on the keyboard again.

Let me explain why…

Through a series of weird coincidences, I happened upon the necessity to consider purchasing a “real” Windows Home Server box from an OEM.  My current “Frankenstein’s Monster” box I assembled many years ago (after all, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster) is probably a liability.  I keep feeding it drives, and it keeps running.

For all of you out there who have businesses of some sort, the end of 2010 means the last opportunity to spend some money on capital assets (i.e. shiny toys) and write them off.  Because everyone is soooo scared that taxes might change in 2011, CPA’s are telling people to spend money this year as though a great plague is upon us and the only way to slake its blood lust is to feed it cash.

It’s like written permission

So when you get this letter from your CPA and you look for toys to buy, you start thinking about all the non-sexy stuff that you worry about at 2AM when you can’t sleep.  My Windows Home Server is one of those items.

Read the rest of this entry »