Windows Phone 7 – Speech!

Who knew but Windows Phone 7 has speech recognition capability built in! It can be enabled/configured from the settings screen under Speech (duh!), and can be enabled and enabled even when locked.

To activate hold the start button (Windows button) then speak items such as:

Call Roger Wilkinson Mobile

or

Open Calendar (start works as well)

I have tried with a few contacts and downloaded applications as well as preinstalled ones and games with good results. While it is not 100% accurate I have probably experienced around 90-95% success rate (admittedly trying to pronounce clearly, it is not as good if you don’t make the effort).

I would recommend giving it a try if you have a WP7 mobile, and I really can’t understand why this fantastic feature is not better advertised.

Thumba – Windows Phone 7 Marketplace

I have just downloaded and trialled this app for Windows Phone 7 from marketplace, in short it allows very quick and simple editing of photos directly on the phone. The adjustments available are in 3 categories Image, Adjustment and Effects.

The Image section allows cropping, done by dragging your finger across the photo on screen to select the area to crop to. Also available are the basic filp, mirror and rotate unctions.

Adjustments gives options for Exposure, Hue and Saturation, Multiply, Normalize, Remove Noise, White Balance most options are applied by sliding your finger across or up and down the screen to increase intensity of the adjustment.

Effects cover the common functions available in most good photo editing applications such as blur, grayscale and sepia as well as a host of others.

Thumba works exactly as i should photos can be quickly located adjusted and saved. The trial version of the app gives the ability to test all the facilities and displays the result as a watermarked non saveable image, the only thing missing from the app is the ability to pinch zoom. It is not often than an app just works the way it should and does exactly what it says and for AUD$3 it is amazing vaue, this should be an essential for anyone who is a regular camera user and wants to post the best looking shots to their social network.

Windows Phone 7 – HTC 7 Mozart – Telstra

The images to left left are of the HTC 7 Mozart Windows Phone 7 now available from Telstra in Australia with $0 upfront on a 24 month $49 cap. Specs for the phone can be found here:

http://www.htc.com/au/product/7mozart/overview.html

and details of the plan here:

http://www.telstra.com.au/mobile/phones/windows7/

I have have been using the phone for 3 days and and for the main part am very impressed, interface elements such as the screen and button layout are good and the build quality is solid. The large v shape area that makes up most of the rear of the phone is aluminium and wraps round the edges of the front. The top and bottom left corners of the back of the phone are plastic with the top left containing an 8mp camera, while the bottom can be removed to access the battery and sim card. The left side has volume buttons and a micro usb type b socket for charging, the right has a button for the camera and on top the headphone/microphone jack and main power button, all feel solid and responsive.

The new Windows Phone 7 interface is clean sharp, simple to configure and navigate, the screen itself is bright and sharp and can easily be read in daylight (note it does not have lines or look like the photo, thats just my poor skills 🙂 ). At the top level the interface has the new tiles which can be swiped up and down to shown more options. Each tile can be moved by pressing and holding briefly and then dragging the tile to the new desired location, the option to unpin also appears to remove the tile completely. Swiping from right to left takes you to a list of all installed options that can be scrolled up and down touching and holding an item on this screen give the option to pin it to the front tiles view.

The camera takes good quality pictures and the flash works well inside but can oversaturate at close range, video equally works well in the context of a phone. A nice feature is being able to activate the camera at any time by holding down the button on the right, instead of having to fumble through menus and miss that in the moment shot! After taking a photo it can quickly and simply be shared or uploaded as required.

The phone quality is good and clear, contacts can be simply imported from gmail/outlook/sim card/facebook in seconds and (relatively but not perfectly) combined to remove multiple entries. Once set up Facebook updates can be viewd with a couple of touches. SMS messages are simple to type with the on screen keyboard which seems precise but for some reason has the haptic vibrating feedback in some areas but not others. Predictive text is good and speeds entry without being intrusive and forcing selections, personally I would like to see Swype or SlideIT as an option having use SlideIT for a while it’s hard to lose it. Email is also simple to send, one gripe is that you end up with a tile for each account on the home page, I would have preferred a single tile to keep the numbers of tiles down.

The TelstraOne hub is actually well designed and useful it give quick access to the latest news, sport and weather. All of this is unmetered to Telstra customers so there are not issues with chewing through the limited data pack that comes with the cap plan. On the subject of the plans Telstra really need to revise the current options the 200Mb that comes with the plan really is not enough, when signing up I was give an bonus pack till the end of November doubling the allowance but I think a base of 500Mb as standard should be nearer the mark. The NextG data speeds are truly amazing browsign the marketplace and downloading applications takes only seconds.

The Marketplace is good has logically categories and purchasing and installing is very fast and works well. There are a good number of applications for launch and I am sure it will increase rapidly, there are a few things missing currently such as Skype and a business card reader along with some others. The games store has some good titles along with some really terrible ones, the XBox Live integration is good with achievements on phone games counting towards your live profile. It will be interesting to see if any games appear that have both a 360 and phone component.

On the downside I have had some issues connecting to the marketplace over wifi the connection was slow and some downloads failed, applications such as Facebook would also not connect but these issues only occurred over wifi and for the minute I am happy to put them down to teething issues. I would guess with wifi off and general usage the battery would last me a couple of days on a charge.

Overall I would recommend this phone to anyone looking for a new smartphone and it stands up well to the iPhone and Android phones. There is not reason to compare this to previous Microsoft OS phones as they are two completely different beasts. Is MS back in the phone game YES have they left it too late I don’t think so consumers are very fickle and if a new option looks more promising they will switch (except hardcore Apple fanboys but do they really count?). Anyway if you decide to buy on I don’t think you will be disappointed.

TS: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Configuring – Exam 70-667

I am about to embark on my first SharePoint 2010 exam and 70-667 and in preparation I will be producing a set of study notes to cover the major points of the exam. I will publish these notes by section as I complete them in case anyone else finds them useful. Note these posts will only contain information aggregated from SDK’s and official MS documentation as well as my own experiences I will not be using or publishing any actual questions or brain dumps. The sections I am intending on covering are listed below:

Installing and Configuring a SharePoint Environment

Deploy new installations and upgrade

Configure SharePoint farms

Configure service applications

Configure indexing and search

Managing a SharePoint Environment

Manage operational settings

Manage accounts and user roles

Manage authentication providers

Deploying and Managing Applications

Manage Web Applications

Manage site collections

Deploy and manage SharePoint solutions

Maintaining a SharePoint Environment

Back up and restore a SharePoint environment

Monitor and analyze a SharePoint environment

Optimize the performance of a SharePoint environment

Stay tuned for the first installment!

Boot from VHD Bare Metal

Below are the steps involved in setting up a machine (in this case my laptop) to boot from VHD when installing a new HDD. At some point I may come back and update with screen grabs but for the minute the steps should be enough for most proficient users.

  1. Install new HDD
  2. Boot from DVD. This must be either Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2
  3. When the Install GUI loads Shift+F10 to open command prompt
  4. Type: DISKPART
  5. At the DISKPART Prompt type: list disk
  6. If you only have the newly installed HDD there should only be one entry here, in the case of multiple drives note the number of the new drive
  7. Type: select disk 0 (or the number noted previous if multiple drives)
  8. Type: list partition (should return none available if you have the new disk selected)
  9. Type: clean
  10. Type: create partition primary
  11. Type: format quick fs=ntfs
  12. Type: assign letter=c (or another suitable if multiple drives)
  13. Type: list partition (should now show the newly created partition)
  14. Type: select partition 1
  15. Type: active
  16. Type: create vdisk file=”C:filename.vhd” type=expandable maximum=100000 (maximum 100000 = 100Gb set as appropriate)
  17. Type: select vdisk file=”C:filename.vhd”
  18. Type: attach vdisk
  19. Use ALT+Tab to return to the install screen GUI
  20. Run the Windows installer as usual but select the vdisk as the installation drive. The installer will show a warning that windows cannot be installed to this disk, ignore it 😉
  21. Happily use your newly installed vhd boot machine!

Side notes:

This process cannot be carried out on a USB drive it has to be a permanent drive, it may work on eSATA but I don’t have a drive or connector to try it out with.

Creating a backup of the VHD for later recovery, this was one of the main reasons for using boot from VHD as I install a lot of beta software which can have a negative impact on the machines day to day running. I would advise taking a backup before installing any trial/beta software and then revert back to the backed up image if any issues occur:

  1. Boot from DVD, Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2
  2. Shift+F10 to open command prompt
  3. Type: C: (or whatever drive the image is on)
  4. Type: copy filename.vhd clone.vhd (this will take forever on a large drive)
  5. Type: exit
  6. Cancel the installation
  7. Done
With any luck this will be of use to someone out there!