Flock, The Social Web Browser

I just downloaded and installed a great new browser – Flock.  It uses the same engine as Firefox and also uses all the add-ons (like Ghostery and Ad-Block Plus).  It has direct hooks into Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, and blogs like WordPress.  I am new to it, and I am liking it already.  Check it out.

Flock At-A-Glance! – Flock, The Social Web Browser

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Screen Captures from the MiFi 2200

Verizon MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot

I just saw the news release from Verizon about this, so I figure I can now safely blog about it.

On May the 6th, I got a SWEET new gadget from my buddies at Verizon – the MiFi 2200.  And now, I can finally talk about it!  Verizon calls it an “Intelligent Mobile Hotspot”.  I call it “Geek COOL!”  It is about the size of eight or nine credit cards stacked on top of each other.  It weighs just over 2 ounces, and it runs for about four hours of active use (40 hours on standby) on its internal battery.

What does it do?  It provides 802.11g + 802.11b WiFi access (using WEP 64-bit, WEP 128-bit, WPA Personal (TKIP), and WPA2 Personal (AES) for up to five computers, all over Verizon’s EvDO Rev.A and 1xRTT data networks.  It is small and light enough to carry around in your shirt pocket.  With Verizon’s excellent coverage, it would allow you to access the Internet from almost anywhere, and you could invite four of your best buddies to join you on the Internet AT THE SAME TIME.  By the way, it does NOT have a micro-SD slot (I have seen some other blogs that mentioned that it might have one).

Where I was doing my testing, I was bouncing between EvDO Rev.A and 1xRTT (let’s just say “Fast” and “not as fast”).  I hit http://www.speedtest.net and ran the Speed Test there and got .63 Mbps down and  .37 Mbps up the first time and .84 Mbps down and .41 Mbps up the second time.  Both tests had about 100 ms of latency.

The device supports MAC filtering, the WEP and WPA security I mentioned above, port filtering, VPN Passthrough, and Port Forwarding just to name a few of the available options that can be set in the web-based administrative interface.  Again, this is all in a unit that you won’t even notice in your pocket!

The MiFi will cost $150-$50 rebate (=$100) with a two-year agreement, and the data service will be $39.99/mo for 250MB (plus $0.10/MB for anything over 250MB) or $59.99/mo for 5GB (plus $0.05/MB for anything over 5GB).  Verizon will also offer a DayPass for $15 for 24-hour access when the MiFi is purchased at full price without a monthly service plan.  Release date is supposed to be May 17.

Bottom line – Sweet little device from Verizon at a great price.  I hope that Verizon does something to make their data plan truly unlimited without costing too much.  Come on Verizon, I know you can do it!

And now, with a picture – compared to my Metro card 🙂

mifi2200-2

Comments, questions?

Mobile Phones, PDAs, and PEDs

Those of you who know me know that I am a Windows Mobile (WinMo) guy.  Why?  Carrier choice, OS support, device integration, and device form factor variety.  Even though the Mobile OS is basically a port of the Desktop OS, I still like the devices because of the overlays that HTC has put on devices like the Fuze, the massive support of Microsoft that stands behind the OS, and the wide variety of form factors and carriers that offer these devices.

With that said, I think the iPhone is very well done.  I love the interface and the applications.  I think Blackberrys are excellent mobile business devices.  And I am looking forward to the Palm Pre like a six-year-old without a bike or a puppy on Christmas Eve.  I am hoping the kind folks at Palm let me have one early to use and talk about.  Anyhow, why do I like all of these WinMo competitors?  Because Apple, RIM, and Palm make Microsoft want to be a better Mobile Operating System (get the “As Good as It Gets” reference?).  OK, so I am no comedian.  But I do know a lot about mobile devices.  And I know them from all sides – the administrative side and the end-user side.  I know what makes for a great end-user experience, and I know what administrators are looking for.

End users want a functional device that is fun, functional, and easy to use.  Some users like keyboards, some don’t.  Some users like the stylus, some don’t.  Some users like navigation wheels, some don’t.  Etcetera, ad nauseam.  In other words, each mobile user is as unique as a snowflake.  And this uniqueness is at odds with the administrative side.  The best situation for an administrator is if every user has the same device with the same applications and similar settings.  Easy to administer and easy to troubleshoot, right?  Right.  But is this what the end-user wants?  No. So the administrator has to manage the device in as simple a way as possible without the user seeing it (transparency) while ensuring the data on the device is safe (security) and the users can access what they need to do their work (accessibility and availability).  How can this be accomplished? 

The device operating system must be capable of supporting remote management and security.  It must work with existing directory installations (i.e., Active Directory).  The management piece must support groups, policies, and ACLs.  Don’t force your administrators to learn yet another management interface from another vendor that does not quite match the Windows look and feel.  The easier it is for the administrator to manage devices, the more likely that administrator is to provide end-users with flexibility on their mobile devices.

Bottom line – the future of mobile computing is so bright, I gotta wear shades.

As always, comments welcome.  I will respond if necessary.

Windows Easy Transfer and 64-Bit Vista

I have been running 64-bit Vista on my laptop for some time now.  Overall, it has been stable and fast, with a few compatibility issues – no Cisco VPN client for 64-bit Vista, and no support for the SIIG USB 2.0 to VGA dongle.  On Friday, I decided that I was going to rebuild my hard drive to 32-bit Vista.

I proceeded to plug in an external 100 GB USB drive as a destination for my files and settings.  I then launched Windows Easy Transfer (WET).  It ran for an hour or so and transferred my files and settings into an image file on my external hard drive.  So far, so good.  I then inserted the 32-bit Vista DVD and launched setup.  I did the install, overwriting all of my previous files.  It all went without a hitch.  I reconnected my external hard drive and launched WET on the newly installed 32-bit Vista instance.  I promptly received an error message from WET telling me that the image file was from 64-bit Vista (no kidding) and that it was not able to transfer to 32-bit Vista.  What?  Seriously?  It waited until NOW to tell me this?

I was left feeling a bit helpless and lost for a few minutes.  All of my files, gone.  I looked on the net for some 3rd party tool that would crack open this image file and allow me to access the files inside.  Alas, there was nothing.  Fortunately for me, a colleague has the exact same laptop as me, and he is the Mac guy, so he never uses it.  Additionally, I had a spare hard drive of my own that fit into both laptops.

And so I removed his hard drive and put my old drive into his laptop.  I installed 64-bit Vista on that drive/laptop.  I then connected my external hard drive to that laptop and initiated WET.  I spent the next hour or so transferring my files and settings to this newly built machine.  Once it finished, I manually copied My Documents and my PST file from this temporary 64-bit laptop back onto the external hard drive.  I then took the external hard drive and connected it to my laptop with 32-bit Vista, and I manually copied all of my files to their respective destinations.  What should have been a 3-hour project took almost all day.

And now my questions:  Why doesn’t Microsoft tell you at the very beginning of WET that it only works 64-bit to 64-bit?  Why doesn’t WET allow you to specify the destination OS version?  How can Microsoft possibly call this Easy?

Bottom Line – If you are planning to “downgrade” your operating system from 64-bit to 32-bit (for whatever reason), do not use Windows Easy Transfer.  Copy your files and settings manually.

As always, leave a comment if you have questions, and I will do my best to answer or clarify.