Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Samsung Focus is finally available in Vancouver, Canada

I just stopped by my local Futureshop and discovered they finally have the Samsung focus in stock. They received one (1). And they wouldn't sell it to me "off contract" but if you're looking to become a new Rogers Wirelss customer you're in luck.

However I did discover that the BestBuy website is now showing them as in stock at the Cambie store - so it looks like the wait is finally over.

Now the question is - is it worth waiting until boxing day to see if they'll offer any discounts? FYI - the Focus retails for $499 US so we're definitely over paying north of the border.

Strangely, the HTC Surround is actually $50 less in Canada. This might be the one and only time I wish I was a Telus customer.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Continuing the search for a Windows Phone 7 device

After reading several reviews and first impressions of the retail Windows Phone 7 handsets I decided that I wanted to get my hands of a couple of the devices before shelling out $500 for a new phone.

Yesterday (being the last day of December) I decided to check in again with Future Shop, Best Buy and a Rogers Wireless retail store to see if anyone had any stock of the Samsung focus in Vancouver - still nothing. I did notice that Futureshop is now selling the LG Quantum with a slide out keyboard for Bell customers. Its a start but it still doesn't help me.

Today I took a trip down to Redmond to see if could get my hands on a phone south of the border. The Microsoft retail store in Bellevue Square is currently selling 5 phones for various carriers - and all of them are turned on and setup for display.

Samsung Focus: Thin, light and responsive. The color accuracy and brightness seems a little off but that could have been from the overly bright lights in the MS Store

LG Quantum: Looks like a good device but I'd like a larger screen and I'd prefer a thinner phone without a slide out keyboard. The display and responsiveness seemed good.

HTC Surround: I've used one of these devices before and its good (although a little thick) but I do notice just a bit of ghosting when scrolling through menus.

HTC HD7: A beautiful and thin device but substantially heavier than the Focus (its closest competitor feature-wise). I also has VERY vi sable ghosting on scrolling text, so much that I wouldn't buy the device which is unfortunate because it was my favorite of the phones on paper.

Dell Venue Pro: Another good phone but the weight and thickness make it uninteresting and I personally don't like the bottom slide out keyboard. The keys are smaller than the onscreen keyboard so I don't see the need for it.

After deciding that the phone I wanted to buy was the Samsung Focus I quickly discovered that the Microsoft store doesn't sell any phones unlocked nor will they provide any assistance with unlocking the phone. I was told that if I used AT&T service for 3 months they would then provide an unlock code.

I walked over to the AT&T retail store to see if I could get a different answer and they claimed complete ignorance and simply stated they don't sell unlocked phones.

It also looks like is no longer selling the Samsung Focus so I think my next step is to try ordering one online from for the inflated price of $599.99 Canadian ...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Panoramic Software Windows Phone 7 Applications

Panoramic Calc Pro WP7 Panoramic Ultimate Sudoku WP7 Panoramic Guitar Suite WP7 Panoramic Calc Pro WP7

Panoramic Software Inc has released several products for the new Microsoft Windows Phone 7.

All the software is fully translated English, French, German, Italian and Spanish (all of the languages the wp7 marketplace currently supports).

Rather than list off all of the features your best bet is to go to the website (or take a look on the Zune Marketplace):

The currently released and certified applications so far are:

Calc Pro
Guitar Suite
Ultimate Sudoku
Converter Pro
Scientific Calc

FreeCell and Blackjack are also very close to being ready and there's more coming for Windows Phone 7 before the end of the year.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Searching for a Samsung Focus in Vancouver, Canada

I've been trying to get my hands on a Samsung Focus for the Rogers network since the Windows Phone 7 launch.

On the first day I called my local Rogers Wireless to see if they had any stock. I was promptly told they wouldn't have any until the end of the month but I could order them online. I tried calling to order one but I was told by the call center that they were only available through the website and not via a live person (no idea why).

So after 3 attempts to order through the website I got tired of seeing the "unable to process credit card" message and I decided to wait.

Last week I saw a Best Buy flyer listing the focus so I promptly headed into the closest location - no luck - although they're advertising they have no stock. I called a second location just to be sure. Best of all, no one seems to know when they'll be in stock.

Just for fun I dropped into Futureshop where I saw a well placed advertisement for the focus on the Rogers Wireless display table but again I was told they wouldn't have them until next week (they hope ... ).

So it looks like Samsung hasn't been able to meet demand which I'm hoping is a reflection on the popularity of the phone and not a production issue.

As soon as I'm able to get my hands on a device I'll post some pictures a quick comparison to a couple of other phones. I've already tried a colleague's HTC Surround and from what I've seen the WP7 phones are worth the wait. I can't wait to upgrade from my Palm Treo Pro.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Atom Netbook Processor Comparisons

I started shopping for a netbook PC as a gift and I quickly realized that the price and processor models vary quite a bit without providing any useful information. So here's a quick list of the common Intel netbook processors and their specs:

Atom N270 - 1,6Ghz, single core, 512k cache
Atom N280 - 1.66Ghz, single core, 512k cache
Atom N450 - 1.66Ghz, single core, 512k cache
Atom N455 - 1.66Ghz, single core, 512k cache
Atom N475 - 1.83Ghz, single core, 512k cache
Atom N550 - 1.5Ghz, dual core, 1024k cache

So the simple quick analysis is, the higher the number, the quicker the processor. Even though the 280, 450, & 455 look identical, the underlying chip sets do get progressively better and the higher models with perform slightly better (although I suspect you won't notice).

I would recommend paying a little more if you can move up to an N475 or an N550. If those aren't available I would make my purchasing decision based on other factors (size, price, hard drive size, etc).

The N550 is the best choice as its dual core, but if performance is your main concern I'd suggest looking at either a Core2 Duo processor or a Core i3 which are both available in Ultra Lower Power versions in netbooks. Either one at 1.3Ghz will greatly outperform any of the above mentioned atoms processors.

I personally have an Asus 1810T with a 1.3Ghz Core2 Duo and its more than capable of handling all of my work needs when I travel.

You can checkout Intel's master Atom processor list here:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Development

I just wanted to write a quick post to let any readers know that I haven't stopped updating my blog. I'm currently in the process of learning Silverlight and trying to master C# to prepare for Windows Phone 7 development.

If you read this blog for Windows Mobile software updates, check back soon as there are updates for Panoramic Calc Pro, Guitar Suite, and Ultimate Sudoku in the works.

And for any developers out there, the transition from C++ to C# isn't quite as simple as you may be lead to believe but C# is a great programming lanugage and it will reduce your development time.


Monday, May 31, 2010

How to emulate the HTC HD Mini in Visual Studio

Windows Mobile 6.1 HTC HD Mini emulator Visual Studio 2005 2008Windows Mobile 6.5 HTC HD Mini emulator Visual Studio 2005 2008
(Windows Mobile 6.1 & 6.5)

With the release of HTC's HD Mini, Windows Mobile developers now have another resolution to worry about. And its not unreasonable to assume that HTC will be able to move a large number of these devices with the popularity of the HD and HD2.

You can take a look at the specifications here:

What's important to note is the screen resolution of 320x480 - this is the only Windows Mobile device that I know of that uses this resolution. What's also important is the screen DPI - which is most likely 128. QVGA devices like the Touch are 96dpi and VGA and WVGA devices are 192dpi.

Its also worth noting that this device has a height to width ratio of 3 to 2 where normal devices are 4:3 and the wide devices are 5:3 so you may need to make some minor alternations to your GUI code when supporting the mini.

Now I haven't been able to find an emulator for this device but fortunately we can fake it using the Windows Mobile 6 SDK. I had a clever friend that works in Redmond help me out with this so I big thanks to her.

Fortunately we can use the Microsoft Device Emulator to launch a recompiled emulator image and change the display properties. Now remember I mentioned 128dpi? There is only one emulator image that supports this and that is the 320x320 Square QVGA emulator image. You can try other images but the resources will be incorrect and the sizes of menus, icons, etc will be either too big or too small.

So lets cut to the chase, assuming you have Visual Studio 2005 or 2008 installed and the Windows Mobile 6.1 SDK you can launch the emulator from the command line or by using a Batch file with the following command:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Device Emulator\1.0\DeviceEmulator.exe" "C:\Program Files\Windows Mobile 6 SDK\PocketPC\DeviceemulationV610\0409\PPC_USA_GSM_QVGA_VR.BIN" /memsize 256 /hostkey Left-Alt /video 320x480x16

or for 64 bit systems:
"C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Device Emulator\1.0\DeviceEmulator.exe" "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Mobile 6 SDK\PocketPC\DeviceemulationV610\0409\PPC_USA_GSM_QVGA_VR.BIN" /memsize 256 /hostkey Left-Alt /video 320x480x16

Windows Mobile HTC HD Mini command line emulator launch for 6.1
(Launching the emulator at 320x480 - Windows Mobile 6.1)

You can also try the 6.5 image but I wasn't able to get the start menu working, presumably there are additional resources needed for the 480 high screen:

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Device Emulator\1.0\DeviceEmulator.exe" "C:\Program Files\Windows Mobile 6 SDK\PocketPC\DeviceemulationV650\0409\PPC_USA_GSM_320x320_VR.BIN" /memsize 256 /hostkey Left-Alt /video 320x480x16

Once you have it up and running, you can cradle it just like any other emulator, it will show up in the Device Manager at the bottom with an ID string in the "Others" section.

Syncing the HTC HD Mini emulator with device manager on Windows 7 64
(Custom emulator shown in the Device Manager)

Panoramic Calc Pro debugging on the HTC HD Mini Windows Mobile 6.5 emulator using Visual Studio 2005
(Debugging Calc Pro with the custom launched emulator)

Good luck and feel free to post questions

Further reading:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Panoramic Guitar Suite updated to verion 1.3.0

Panoramic Software Inc has just released a new version of Guitar Suite for Windows Mobile.

The big news is Guitar Suite now supports Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese.

If you haven't checked out Guitar Suite in a while it supports more than just Guitars now, you can also select Bass Guitar, Banjo, Lute or Ukulele tunings.

Check it out here:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Panoramic Software is now on Facebook

If you want an easy way to keep up to date with Panoramic Software products and features you just might want to become a fan of the new facebook page:

Its also a great way to interact with the developers. A user recently requested KenKen for Sudoku and it made it into the latest release so don't be afraid to post.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Panoramic Ultimate Sudoku updated

Panoramic Ultimate Sudoku has been updated to version 1.1.0

Along with a number of minor tweaks and improvements it now contains "Genius" level puzzles for regular Sudoku, a new game mode called KenKen, and support for five new languages: Dutch, French, German, Spanish, & Portuguese.

It supports all Windows Mobile touch screen devices (5.0 and up including 6.5.3).

Take a look here:

And while you're there enter the contest to win a free copy.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Panoramic Calc Pro for Windows XP/Vista/7

Panoramic Software has finally brought Calc Pro to desktop PCs. It has been carefully developed to work on desktop PCs, laptops, net books and tablets.

Along with all of the features of the Windows Mobile version:

  • Standard calculator

  • Scientific

  • Financial with 10 worksheets

  • 130+ daily updated currency conversions

  • Thousands of Unit conversions

  • Thousands of scientific constants

  • Graphing

  • Multiple skins

  • Highly configurable calculator settings including RPN

  • Much more

The Windows version also allows for 4 size selections which allows it to work great on 1080p displays and tiny net book displays as small as 640x480.

For more information, purchasing or a free trial go here:

Monday, February 15, 2010

How to get support for your mobile applications and games

This sounds like a pretty straight forward topic but after being in the industry for almost a decade I know that some people could use some assistance.

Step One - Ensure there really is a problem:
Read on screen messages, take a quick look if you received an email with your purchase with further instructions, etc.

Step Two - Make sure its not your phone:
If you know how, perform a soft reset and try again. If you're trying to install software and you have the option, download it again. Occasionally the download can get corrupted.

Step Three - Prepare your support question:
No one likes software that doesn't work we all want it fixed as quickly as possible so gather the following information:
- Application name
- Make a model of your phone
- Sales transaction ID, reference number, etc
- Description of the problem (be concise)
- Description of any error messages (be precise)
You'll almost always be asked for this information anyways so you might as well save some back and forth.

Sending "software doesn't work" isn't going to get you to a quick resolution.

Step Four - decide who to contact:
If your problem is downloading the software you'll need to contact the company/website that sold you the software. There's no point calling Sony for support if Best Buy hasn't delivered TV. Contact the software development company for everything else, it'll be faster.

Step Five - send the email:
This part is easy if you've done the above, I just have one more bit of advice - "Be Polite". As a developer I avoid support as much as possible but it still falls in my lap. We've always maintained a policy of being polite and helpful to everyone. However its much more pleasant for us to deal with polite customers and we're more likely go out of our way to help them (for example, over the weekend) than a belligerent customer. You may at times be dealing with a big corporation but there's always a person on the other end that has to read your message.

Also be realistic about your expectations, you're not likely to find companies are willing to call you long distance and spend hours on the phone with you for a product that costs 99 cents.

Step Six - follow up:
Hopefully this isn't necessary but don't be afraid to follow up a couple of times. If you're not getting a response try sending from another email account and don't use excessive smiley face images. Do your part to ensure your message isn't getting caught in a SPAM filter and make sure your filters aren't blocking the response. Be polite but let them know your previous email has gone unanswered.

If you're not getting the help you need contact the sales website and request a refund. You deserve to have a working product and most of these companies will issue you a refund without much hassle assuming you've already attempted to solve the problem.

Good Luck!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Windows Mobile powered Blackberry? BlackGrape i9000

We recently dealt with a support issue for one our games and the user was reporting very odd behavior (random screen orientation changes, touch screen not working, etc). I finally asked what device they were using and they curtly responded "BlackGrape 9000". Wow.

A quick google search and I was able to find some basic information. It appears to be running Windows Mobile 6.1 and the device is a poor copy of the Blackberry Bold.

I DO NOT recommend buying these devices, this is an obvious infringement on RIM's intellectual property and I am confident that Microsoft would not give permission to create this device so it most likely means that the operating system (Windows Mobile) and any software installed on the device are not being legally obtained or distributed (ie pirated).

And if you morally don't have an issue with it, remember that this device will not run software designed for the Blackberry Bold and it sounds like it won't even run Windows Mobile software correctly either.

That being said I find the concept quite entertaining.

You can read more here and buy what appears to be a LOT of other bootleg phones running Windows Mobile .... just terrible.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Panoramic Guitar Suite released for Windows Mobile Phones

Panoramic Software Inc Guitar Suite Windows Mobile Professional Chords Tuner Metronome Panoramic Software Inc Guitar Suite Windows Mobile Professional Chords Tuner Metronome Panoramic Software Inc Guitar Suite Windows Mobile Professional Chords Tuner Metronome

Panoramic Software Inc has just released Guitar Suite for Windows Phones with touch screens.

Guitar Suite includes a comprehensive guitar chord look up engine capable of displaying over 25,000 chords in any of the included 20 tunings. Its also able to play any displayed chord.

It also includes a Play mode allowing you to tap on the screen and play any note at any onscreen fret. You also have the option to overlay 50 different scales in any of the included tunings.

Guitar Suite also helps you tune your guitar with a high accuracy digital tuner. And if you phone's microphone isn't sensitive enough for tuning, you can also tune by ear.

Finally, Guitar Suite wouldn't be complete without a precise Metronome with a range of 30 to 240 BPM.

For more information or to purchase go to:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updating Windows Mobile

Panoramic LaunchPad Palm Treo Pro Panoramic LaunchPad Favorites Palm Treo Pro

Panoramic Launch Pad iSS Battery Monitor Pocket Digital Clock Palm Treo Pro iSS Task Switcher 1.5 Palm Treo Pro Windows Mobile

Having your phone look "cool" is really half of the enjoyment of owning a smartphone. If you read my blog at all its obvious that my current phone of choice is a Palm Treo Pro which I think is still quite a good looking device.

However the operating system on it has been looking dated for quite some time. If you own a Treo Pro or another HTC made Windows Mobile phone you could always head over to XDA developers and install a "cooked" version 6.5 ROM but its risky and I'm sure violates at least once of your license agreements. Besides, Windows Mobile 6.1 works great and now I can dress it up a bit.

1st - Panoramic Launch Pad 1.6 (currently beta)
Its receiving a major visual update along with some usability improvements and the option to add contacts to favorites. The retail version should be released very soon but the beta is fast and stable.

2nd - iSS Battery Monitor
It was recently updated to version 1.5 and includes a few new features but most importantly it has 5 new skins including that great blue color.

3rd - Pocket Digital Clock
Another gem in the world of free Windows Mobile applications that a colleague of mine came across. Its pretty, its customizable (color, size, display, etc) and it works great: I love it.

4th - iSS Task Switcher
Its also been updated to version 1.5 which includes visual enhancements but the new colors really make the application more appealing and allows it to match most color schemes on your phone.

The background is from, definitely go check it out if you haven't done so already. They have a great free section which is where this image is from and you can subscribe to access the paid section. I've been using the backgrounds for years, fantastic work. I used on my desktop PC to crop and re size the background image.

Worth Mentioning:
I also have Fizz Traveler and customized version of Calendar+ and Live Search installed on the today screen. And I use Illium Software Screen Capture to create the screen shots.

For just over $10 you can give the same visual treatment to any touchscreen Windows Mobile device (5.0 or newer).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

OLX - a new free classifieds website

I was recently contacted by a representative of OLX asking if I was interested in making a post abouttheir website. Normally I would would make a face at this type of marketing but first off, I don't really think enough people read this blog to consider it an imposition, two, I was curious about the site, and three, I was somewhat flattered they thought I was worth contacting.

So first things first, if you haven't heard of OLX its a free classifieds website and they're looking to improve on the model craigslist established. They allow videos, high resolution pictures, and include several "web 2.0" features.

I haven't used the site enough to form a strong opinion but I will admit that I am happy to see the better quality images. The only downside I saw was the expected spam left in the comments of some listings.

When it comes right down to it if you're looking to buy or sell something it never hurts to have another site to use. I didn't have too much luck finding things in my area but since its free to post I'd still use it as sales channel if the need ever arose.

You can get their full rundown on features here:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Should you install the 32bit or 64bit version of Windows 7? has a great article to help you decide which version of Windows 7 to install.

To cut to the point, if you have more than 3gig of ram and don't need to run old software or install old peripherals 64 bit is the way to go.

Take a look here:

I personally have Windows 7 x64 installed on my main development system which has 4 gig of RAM installed. However I end up using my laptop with the 32bit version installed because I have a number tools I need that don't work in the 64 bit version. But I should be honest, I also still use my 5 year old Dell laptop with Windows XP for those really picky applications.