I suppose it's my own fault. I was crossing the river on my quad and had my iPhone in my pocket when i broke through the ice, flipped onto my back, and sunk up to my chest in freezing cold water. My iPhone was in the pocket of my waterproof pants which unfortunately had a sizable hole permitting the icy cold Athabasca water to penetrate and destroy the one techno-toy I can't live without.
After a few days of trying to dry out the phone and seeing nasty water marks under the screen I was finally able to boot it and get to the home screen. I quickly found out everything worked! Well except for the home button. Now if you think about it, the home button holds a significant place on the iPhone; try living without it!
So off I went in search of a new phone. The smartphone market in Canada is rather bland. We often have to wait months and sometimes longer (in the case of the iPhone) to get what the USA can. I read Engadget from time to time and see all sorts of wonderful prototypes and interesting phones we can't get here. After reading a few reviews of the Android OS and stopping by the Google site I noticed that day that the Nexus One had been released for customers on the Rogers network here in Canada. Woooohoooo! So on a Wednesday afternoon I stepped through the quick order process and even tagged the back with my name and company to see how the quality was. I did read up on the hardware specifications and support for ActiveSync which appeared to be fully supported. By late late Friday I received the phone.
Nice packaging. They've obviously modeled the hardware and packaging after the iPhone. Copy cats.
I charged the phone and quickly began to configure my Google account. The phone locked up solid after 10 minutes. Shit. What the? Okay, take out the battery. Boot the phone again. Everything is good for another 30 minutes until I start to configure ActiveSync. Now I've never seen this done before but Google seems to have forgotten to finish what they started when it comes to support for ActiveSync on the Nexus One. No Calendar or Global Address List support. Are you kidding me? $550+ bones for a phone that pushes email and my personal contacts? No way. I've just been had!
Okay, maybe I'm demanding too much from Google here but I hardly think so. This is Android 2.x already. Get with it. I have to say I was seriously pissed off. To be a corporate mail user and not have access to my Calendar and GAL? I'm lost without it. The 3rd party add on applications you have to buy to get full ActiveSync support are garbage too. I've tried the Google Calendar Sync application which by the way doesn't work with Outlook 2010....unless you have a hacked EXE copy....which I do....and it still sucks. I only get syncing for new calendar items. I'm missing meetings all the time. I can't view, create or accept meeting invitations at all.
So what about the rest of the phone? Well the screen is terrible viewing it in sunlight. When you press an image on the screen like a letter on the soft keyboard or an icon, it's almost as if the image on the screen should be higher up. If they literally shifted up the touch sensor or shifted down the image on the screen, things would line up better. I hate typing on it. The iPhone uses a predictive typing and touch proximity adjustment algorithm to help you NOT press the wrong key when spelling a word. It actually makes the sensor area around english spelling characters bigger so you have a better chance of hitting the right key all on the fly as you type. The Nexus One does not. I'd have to say this single feature is almost as much of a killer for me as is the ActiveSync half-support rubbish.
I own a new Ford vehicle with the Microsoft Sync system which works pretty good most of the time. I was able to sync my wife's iPhone and my own just fine. There are the odd scenarios in which the software on either side has a few bugs but nothing too bad. With the Google Nexus One, if it connects via Bluetooth for hands-free it will magically start to play music. I can see the icon on the phone show a 'play' symbol which is confirmed if I change the input on my stereo to the media feature. I can't understand why my phone thinks I want to play music when I'm not asking it to or when I'm on the phone. This really kills the battery by the way.....more on this later. So I turn off my truck and all of a sudden the Google Nexus One starts blaring music out the external speaker! Then the phone locks up again....while playing music. So I'm now fiddling with buttons and the back cover to take out the battery. I'm just about to chuck it across the parking lot when I realize I have several emails to check up on and phone calls to make. Now as funny as this may seem, it really pisses me off. This is clearly a software issue and should have been well tested and resolved in version 1.0.1 of the platform.
The phone is unresponsive to touch sometimes. The battery is lucky to last an 8 hour day with me placing 2-3 calls and receiving 3-4 calls per day. With the Bluetooth issues mentioned above I almost always turn it off which gives me maybe another hour or two in the day.
Hardware and software issues aside, Google has a lot of catching up to do. Apple has iTunes which offers movie rentals (in Canada too!), music downloads (and yes they have the Dead Milkmen!), and an amazing app store with an interface which offers over the air downloads and previews, etc. The Nexus One has Amazon MP3. I almost laughed myself out of my plane seat when I tried several times to find a few of my favorite albums. No other platform in the world has mastered the integration between online media services and hardware devices like Apple. They've done an amazing job here and all others will be judged in comparison to their success.
So my recent trip to Redmond, WA was fun. I managed to track down an HTC HD2. More on this one later but for now I'm carrying two phones and still feeling like combined they're years behind the iPhone.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Sunday, May 9, 2010
There is much to talk about but only so much we can say at this point. Exchange Server 2010 Service Pack 1 adds a few nice to have features people have been asking for. Some are nice to have while others are imperative to operating a large-scale mail environment.
In this post I'll talk about a few of the optimized visual enhancements in Outlook Web App 2010.
In previous versions of OWA you could customize the look slightly by changing the color to a few simple selections. In Exchange 2010 SP1 you have quite a few built-in themes to meet the needs of just about anyone. Here are a few samples:
The themes are selectable through the Options button in the top right corner and don't require switching screens or clicking through multiple menus. The themes apply instantly and change text color along with the top banner image to give Outlook Web App the style you're looking for.
Outlook Web App SP1 now simplifies the reading pane and action buttons so the user can see more of the content and less wasted white space. The end result is a better viewing experience on size constrained displays such as Netbooks.
Improvements to performance have been made all over. Moving from message to message, deleting content, viewing calendar data give OWA 2010 SP1 a fresh feel. Official performance improvement numbers haven't been released yet but the general feel is quite positive.
Well that's all I can say for now. Check back again soon for more.