Nokia–A New Beginning?

 

Well doesn’t 2 years go fast sometimes? But when you are waiting for your mobile phone contract to expire it seems to last forever, especially the last few months.

Having just reached the end of my contract it has been time to upgrade, and with all the new phone and operating system launches in the last few months, I have been spoilt for choice.

And what would match to the HTC HD2 I am waving goodbye to? Yes I know it runs Windows Mobile 6.5 and was the last of the line really as far as Windows Mobile went, over the last few months and years it has felt more and more rejected as Microsoft turned off the services it launched with like MyPhone and the marketplace.

myphone

But with the initial help of the HTC Sense overlay, and the wonderful XDA Developers site with things like Cookie Home Tab I have had a productive and useful phone for the last 2 years. And because of the wonder that is the HD2 have even been able to run numerous Android builds from the SD card, so have become familiar with that as well. So what to do……

 

Well one obvious choice would be an iPhone, but it would not be the iPhone 4S as there is no way I am paying that much for a phone! So it would likely be down to the iPhone 4 if I could get one at a resonable price. And you know the iconified interface is just so Windowsy and old fashioned now, even my HD2 with Sense let me get the essential information without running up an application.

And the most obvious choice would be one (of the many Android) phones, but which one? The Samsung Galaxy S2 is a fantastic phone, but a couple of people at work have it and it just feels too plasticky for its cost. Eventually it looked like it would be either a HTC Sensation or Sensation XE for the best blend of price and performance, but still the nagging feeling of that certain unfinished nature to Android with multiple email clients, a mix of styles in the widgets you want to use and everything else just made me hesitate long enough…….. to visit a Phones4U store a week ahead of the Nokia Lumia 800 availability and fall in love with Nokia all over again. My last Nokia was the wonderful 6310 over 7 years ago (and I still have that phone as a generic spare) and it was just a brilliant phone of the time.

So why the Lumia? And why Windows Phone? Well the phone itself is just beautiful, as good as, if not better than the iPhone 4(S) which was arguably the best designed phone of recent times. It fells fantastic in the hand and you just want to keep holding it, it feels that good.

And Windows Phone? It was just so different to everything else out there, and feels designed for what you really want to do with your phone when out and about, because that is when you really want to use all the smartphone features. So having picked up my Nokia from Vodafone on launch day last week, so far I still love it. One slight downside is the battery life, although this is now worse than everyone’s Android phones here at work, and I am still learning how to get the best our of it.

Next, I have been enticed to building some apps for the phone, so keep an eye out for them as I start to work them out fully and get things going.

Is this a new beginning for Nokia after being left behind with Symbian for so long, well it is a great start, and if they can keep turning out phones this good, who knows what will happen. One thing is that the other Windows Phone vendors are going to have to up their game to compete now!.

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Internet Explorer – making it a better experience

Day to day I still tend to use Firefox as my main browser but do end up running one or two windows in IE7 since I reguarly visit sites that just don’t quite get it right in firefox (often Microsoft sites!).

Paul Thurrot’s recent post on Firefox Goes Head-To-Head With Microsoft’s IE7 just made me remember how I make my IE7 experience better and more firefox-like, I mean when I have to use IE7 I want the same experience. So without further ado my list of must have extentions:-

*IE7Pro – adds mouse guestures & session restore, and lots more beside

[* InlineSearch – need I say more] – don’t need this as IE7Pro provides this feature

* ieSpell – adds spelling checks

So while I still prefer firefox these addons just IE7 that bit more useable for when I need to use it. Having said that I also have IE7 set as my default browser since I often had problems launching firefox from links in email from Outlook.

Vista & HP1740 LCD Panel Driver – WARNING!!!!

Well interesting weekend with Vista. On Friday I checked on Windows Update and there were updates for my HP nw8240 laptop hardware up a new graphics driver for ATI Mobility FireGL and the HP 1740 LCD I have connected to my docking station at work. So what does a good Vista person do, but opt to download the updates in order to get the ‘BEST” Vista experience.

Well on Friday all seemed to go well and after the update (no reboot now required for graphics driver updates which is really cool) and I continued to work happily with my 2 screen setup. Coming out of standby at home it was a different matter however, suddenly I could only run at 1280 x 1024 on the laptop panel (normally 1680 x 1050) and kept getting a ‘you have have no privelege to change settings’ followed by ‘this is an invalid display configuration’ whenever I tried to change the display setting.

So obvious thing is to suspect the updates I installed on Friday and I went to the graphics adapter and opted to rollback the driver – no change! Obviously I can’t rollback the LCD panel driver as since it isn’t attached I can’t access its driver properties from anywhere. Let’ts try looking at the installed updates from Control Panel – only shows the Windows updates installed and not those for drivers or other in-built apps (such as Windows Mail which also got an update).

Well didn’t need to do much over the weekend so got with weekend stuff and then back in work Monday to fix this. Well now things gets really messed up since once I bring up the laptop on the docking station I can only have a display on the in-builf LCD and am not able to show anything on the second display (you have no rights, etc, etc). So let’s just roll back the Hp1740 LCD driver now we have access to it under devices  in Computer Management.

WHAT! Now I have 2 screens showing the same content running at 640 x 480! Go back, update the ATI graphics driver again, try a reboot, nope still 640 x 480 – You have no rights, etc, etc. Have you ever tried Vista in 640 x 480, it REALLY doesn’t look good.

THINK! OK. open Computer Management, go to Devices, select the HP1740 LCD from the displays list and opt to uninstall it (include selecting to delete driver software). Screens go blank, wait for drive light to stop, press standby button and then bring laptop back out of standby and we are back in hi-res mode. Now bring up display properties and opt to extend desktop onto second monitor and we are back in business.

Moral of story:-

[1] Always create a restore point when updating drivers (I didn’t in this case)

[2] Avoid the HP1740 LCD driver like the plaque if you value your sanity

Hardware Virtualization – It’s Starting

Just noticed today from a link David Marshall’s VMBlog site that Hitachi now have a blade based server platform with virtualisation built into the hardware so how long before IBM, HP et al follow suit.

This is what I talked about in November and makes incredible sense for the hardware vendors since they intimately understand their hardware architecture and can optimise it for virtualization. So between them and the operating system vendors (Microsoft with Verdian and Linux accepting virtualization enhancements into the kernel) where does this leave VMware in the future? Their future lies in management systems for the virtualization space and you can see they fundamentally understand this through their acquisitions. It is not going to happen overnight but over time virtualization will become a commodity item built into the core platform architecture.

What will happen to virtualization?

Following on from my previous entry and these two items:-

This has really made me think as to where virtualization will lead us. It either has to become the OS, and VMware already state that ESX server has millions of lines of code (not dissimilar to many OSes) so at some point the virtualization product becomes the OS and the OS becomes a function library. Or maybe not!

Intel, AMD and other hardware vendors are adding virtualization support like crazy to their hardware so maybe the next step is the virtualization layer to really move into the hardware and BIOS. With multi-core processors coming thick and fast (Intel forsee 80 cores in a few years) the ability to carve up your box into multiple virtual boxes becomes much more relevant. And with all the virtualization handled in the hardware we will have much less overhead on the next layer from virtualization. Really this is just the next step on from the blade arhitecture we have now, instead of slots in a rack we could end up with scokets on a motherboard. Add a few more cores and viola you have added a huge amount of capacity to the system. As with everything at some point the hardware moves down to the chip level, AMD will start the ball rolling as they add GPUs into their chips following their ATI purchase.

This is why VMware needs to move into the system management space as that is where the real value is, operating systems are becoming commodity items, virtualization will just be another trick for the hardware vendors, so the real value is in managing this whole infrastructure and making sure that the workloads that needs the resource and QoS get it.