Windows Phone 8 – a Quickie

I recently got my hands on a couple of Windows Phone 8 (WP8) devices – the Lumia 822 and the HTC 8X. My first impressions are that they are lightweight and have big, beautiful screens. The Lumia has a nice feel to it and feels good in your hand. The HTC is THIN and also feels good in your hand.

The live tiles are cool and all, but for me, they made my home screen too busy. I really only care about new email and calendar activity, so I got rid of the Photos tile and the People tile (among others). They were just too distracting. The Microsoft Store has some good and familiar apps, but it doesn’t compare to the Apple App Store or the Google Marketplace. I hope that Devs support it and build apps for it. There is currently no VPN support, nor is there support for a proxy server in the web browser (even though there is a Web Proxy app that allows user-enforced proxying).

As for end-point security, Microsoft is saying that Anti-virus, Anti-malware, and Firewall are not necessary due to the device OS architecture and the application approval process for the Microsoft Store. This is a similar story to what RIM says about the BlackBerry and what Apple says about the iPhone. For device encryption, MS leverages TPM 2.0.

Overall, I like both of these devices, and I like the OS pretty well. Not giving up my iPhone yet though.

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HP TouchPad

Got my hands on an HP TouchPad today. No, I was not lucky enough to be able to buy one, this is an eval unit from HP. Here are some of my first impressions:

I LOVE the keyboard. Blows the iPad keyboard away. It has the numbers (1-0) at the top of the keyboard, just like a real keyboard. And the shifts of those keys are also just like a real keyboard.

The HP App Catalog is very well-presented. I like the category list at the left and the filters at the top. I like being able to install an app and stay in the store (unlike the Apple App Store). Downside – nowhere near as many apps as in the Apple App Store, and many key apps missing. Still, a surprising number of apps for the discontinued TouchPad.

The email app is pretty darn good. I have two EAS accounts set up and one gmail account. The presentation of email is nice, how it allows you to expand and contract the different panes as needed. I like this app a little better than how email is done on the iPad.

The calender is nice, but the iPad version is nicer.

I may blog more once I have had some more time with the TouchPad. I thought I wanted to buy one before I had the opportunity to play with one. Now I am SURE I want to buy one for me, one for my wife, and one for my son.

Convert EPOCH Time to Date/Time in Excel

And now for something completely different. I was recently asked to retrieve SMS messages from an old iPhone. I was able to get to the backup of the SMS database easily enough, and it opened with SQL Lite, and I exported the messages to Excel. When I started looking at the messages in Excel, I noticed that the “date” field was a string of numbers that looked something like 1302180658.

After looking into this, I discovered that this was the Epoch Time (aka the UNIX Time). This is the number of seconds since January 1, 1970 00:00:00 UTC. I then spent a little time using Google to find out how to convert this to a real Date/Time. I found plenty of online tools to do so, and I even found a site that had a formula for Excel. When I used the formula from the web site, I got a date in the future, so I knew something was wrong.

I then broke down the formula into its components and discovered that the constant that was provided in the formula I got from the web site was wrong. Anyhow, enough back story. Here is how to convert Epoch Time (UTC) to Date/Time (UTC) in Excel:

Row A contains the Epoch Time (i.e., 1302180658)
Cell B2 contains the date January 1, 1970 (in a date formatted cell that is named – I called mine EPOCH)  This is a constant.
Row C contains the following formula: =sum(A2/86400)+EPOCH

Here is a visual

Hope this helps – please let me know if you have questions or issues with using this.  Thanks for stopping by!

More about the Motorola Froyo Update

I just got the details on the updated version of Android on Motorola devices that doesn’t work with Exchange Active Sync: version 2.2 Kernel version 2.6.32.9-g874c292 Build number FRG22D.

Again, if you are having trouble with this (things were working fine last week, and on Friday or Saturday EAS suddenly stopped working), please contact Motorola and your carrier and complain about this.

I would love to hear about your customer service experiences related to this.

Motorola Pushes an Android 2.2 (Froyo) Update that Breaks Active Sync

Three or Four days ago, Motorola pushed an update to Android 2.2 (Froyo) that broke Exchange Active Sync (EAS). If you have one of these devices and EAS is no longer working for you, you should contact Motorola and your carrier and let them know. In the interim, you can use Touchdown to continue the synchronization of your Exchange mail, calendar, and contacts.

Windows Phone 7 Released to Manufacturing

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the Windows Phone 7 product team has released the Windows Phone 7 OS to manufacturing. I hope it does well, but I fear that MS is too late to the dance.

Motorola Cliq from T-Mobile

I know this is an older device, but I just had to post something about it.  I just finished charging this device and updating it (using the built-in automatic update feature).  I am now running:

System:  Blur_Version.1.3.17.MB200.T-Mobile.en.US

Firmware: Android 1.5

Kernel: 2.6.27.build04@il93lnecbld13 #1

After the latest restart (forced by the last update), the Home screen is not loading.  It is throwing the error “Activity Home (in application Home) is not responding.”  The only option that doesn’t result in looking at a black screen is “Force close”.  Doing that gets me back to the Home screen, trying to load, but it never does (and eventually throws the error again, resulting in another Force Close).  T-Mobile has made this device useless through their own updates. Fail.

This all forced me to go out and look for something to get this device working again.  I found a YouTube video by CliqAnDroid showing how to upgrade the Cliq to Android OS 2.1 without rooting.  Here is what I am now running on the Cliq:

System:  Blur_Version.2.0.25.MB200.T-Mobile.en.US

Firmware: Android 2.1-update 1

Kernel: 2.6.29.build01@ca25rhe78 #1

So far, this OS update seems to be stable and functional.  If you search YouTube for CliqAnDroid, you will find videos of how to do it and also showing the features of 2.1 on the Cliq.  By the way, I had no problem at all updating from Blur 1.3.17.  If you are running Windows 7, launch any programs you run during the update as Administrator.

As always, let me know if you have questions or issues.  I WILL NOT provide you links to DL any software.  That is what Google is for 🙂