Sunday, 30 October 2011

Survey re IBM software running on IBM i

I've been asked to help make IBM i customers aware of this survey - if you use, or are looking at, IBM Connections, Sametime, or Lotus Notes Traveler, it would be great if you could take a moment to fill it in (it's very short!)

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Possibilities for extending Windows Phone 7 functionality via Windows Phone Device Manager and TouchXperience

I have finally finished my review of Windows Phone Device Manager.
It's got various embedded images, so it works best as a PDF.
The review is at this link.
UPDATE 5 Dec 2011 - I will update the review when I have time, but be aware that the app works fine on Mango and that the official ChevronWP7 unlock service is now available and working well for the WP7 community.
UPDATE 11 Jan 2012 - Rather less cheerful I'm afraid. ChevronWP7 are not currently issuing unlock tokens, as they have reached the number that Microsoft agreed they could sell, and the WPDM 'My Documents' facility is refusing to launch files properly on my Samsung Omnia with Mango (7740). Am chasing up the latter problem and will update this when I know more.
UPDATE 10 Feb 2012 - I have finally managed to get the review updated (link as before). The above 'My Documents' launch problem is resolved (as far as Mango allows it to be) in WPDM 1.9 - see review. No news on further availability of ChevronWP7 tokens.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #7

Latest on this:

WPDM does have access to Marketplace applications and to their data (great news), but only on HTC 'phones (not such great news, especially for me, given that I have a Samsung Omnia 7).

My detailed beta test results are now on the TouchXperience forum, I'm aiming to start writing my review this week.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #6

Received a WPDM Registration Key by email - no reference to beta testing, but I logged in to the forum, (eventually) found the 1.4 software, downloaded it, and installed it (guesswork - no instructions provided).

I have got it to work, which is very good news.

There are lots of undocumented things you have to do to make it work and keep it working (e.g. none of the connectivity works unless the automatically installed TouchXperience app is active on the 'phone).

The application clearly has absolutely no knowledge of the existence, let alone the internal storage, of any Marketplace app (which doesn't surprise me at all, but which means it's pretty useless as a backup engine).

More details when I have time (and when I have checked whether I'm allowed to give specifics of the 1.4 version yet, since I am on a private beta).

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #5

Encouraged by @piaqt, I decided to take option b).

I have made a donation to (which seems to consist of only one person, Julien Schapman) and used the Contact form there to ask to enrol as a beta tester.

More news soon, I hope!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #4

Not getting on that well ...

I installed WPDM, but it won't run - just starts and almost immediately stops.

It transpires that I need version 1.4 to coexist with the latest WP Developer Tools, but that version 1.4 is still in private beta, with no date given for a public one.

So either
a) I wait an indeterminate time, or
b) I make a donation to the suppliers of WPDM and they consider (but do not guarantee) making me a beta tester and thus giving me access to 1.4, or
c) I waste the morning's effort installing the Developer Tools, take them off my PC, install the penultimate version, and hope that works with 1.3 (which is quite backlevel in terms of functionality anyway - should I be reviewing it at all, on that basis?), or
d) I decide now that the almost non-existent support that seems to be on offer is never going to allow for use of the product in a business context, and drop the idea (my level of curiosity isn't going to allow this).

Some more depressing news picked up during the above researches is that the product gets inside WP7 by, effectively, loading a manufacturer specific 'adopt authority' DLL.I hope that once Microsoft provide supported unlocking they will give developers a better method than that, otherwise here's another reason for lack of acceptance in a business context.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #3

I received another email from Microsoft on Sunday - this didn't actually say 'Geotrust have confirmed you're OK', and it was, very mysteriously, sent to me as an individual, not to the 'company approver' email address (surely it's the company they care about, not the individual? - the company are clearly financially responsible) but I do now appear to be a fully fledged Windows Phone Developer.

I have also succeeded in unlocking my 'phone, but only after searching the developer portal (actually called the App Hub, but referred to, confusingly, by both names) for a meaningless error message about failure to log in to the developer portal - it turned out that this was caused by my IE LAN settings having 'Automatically detect settings' checked.

Hmmm, not at all impressed by any of this, but, as one of my uncles was taught in the Army, 'maintain the objective' - this is all about trying out Windows Phone Device Manager, which I will do over the next couple of days.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #2

Having decided to register as a developer, I went to and filled in the form. I was irritated to find that, the credit card I had stored against my Zune account having expired, no mechanism was provided for editing it, and that I therefore had to add a second credit card.

My account is now awaiting external validation via an organisation called Geotrust; despite my credit card having been debited, I am not allowed to unlock my 'phone until this validation is complete. This is annoying - surely Microsoft only needs to check I am a fit and proper person (which I assume to be the point of all this) when I attempt to submit an app? As it is, I am allowed (indeed encouraged) to submit an untested app, but not to test one. Ah well.

I am promised action within 2 working days, so will post again when I have unlocked my 'phone.

Meanwhile, I have downloaded both the WP Developer Tools and WPDM, and installed the Developer Tools.

The Developer Tools are 650MB in size. They took all morning to download and install, but my PC only has 2GB of RAM when the pre-reqs say 3, so this is probably my own fault. I haven't tried any of it yet (I am especially looking forward to using the WP7 Emulator and to seeing the new 'Mango update' functionality that will be generally available in the autumn). I haven't used a non-Eclipse IDE since the early nineties, so this could be interesting!

The pre-reqs for WPDM specify an unlocked 'phone, so I am leaving that install until Geotrust have done their bit. Interestingly the Developer Tools are also a pre-req, which doesn't augur well.

Windows Phone 7 Development and Windows Phone Device Manager #1

I haven't posted here for a while, partly because I've had a lot of work to do, and partly because I've been finding other places to post thoughts, especially the Windows Phone 7 forum (where I was recently paid the compliment of being level-headed).

There's a big divide in WP7 land between the ordinary user and the developer community - the latter can 'unlock' their 'phones and load unofficial applications, the former are, as with the iPhone, stuck with the Marketplace. There have at various stages been products (jailbreaks/hacks) available to unlock the 'phone without being an official developer, but at present, on a fully updated 'phone, none of these work; recently, Microsoft has made a statement of direction that they will soon be formally supporting such an 'unlock' product (although, obviously, not the applications that thereby land on the 'phone).

All of this is relevant because WP7 has a rather distinctive (read eccentric and in my view flawed) application model. As in Domino, data is encapsulated within the app - there is no shared storage. This is all nice and secure, and sits nicely in the overall locked down and layered WP7 architecture (and it would be pretty inconsistent of me to moan about an architecture that is locked down and layered, given that I have been championing just such an architecture since 1985). But, unlike in Domino, there is no consistent model for the storage of data inside the app; and, as a result, the application model leads to a lot of trouble.

Basically, every app does data management differently, including file/document management and syncing to the PC; the chaotic results of this cause great fury among the user community. Except in a very few cases where the app developer has thought it through properly, there is absolutely no backup facility at all for an app's individual configuration. Also, the invocation of one app's functionality from another is seriously limited: each app has no access to the data stored within the other - the sort of nonsense this causes is exemplified by the inability to attach more than one Office document to the same email (because attaching an Office document has to be done by running Share against the document, not by hitting a paperclip and selecting the document from a list).

Users like me miss the traditional Explorer type interface, because you can't manage related documents of different types in one place. (The lack of USB sync for anything except music and videos doesn't help either, although this could be cured by better design of individual apps.)

Anyway, various people have been suggesting that an unofficial app called Windows Phone Device Manager is capable of resolving a lot of this by providing an Explorer interface (and USB sync), and that when Microsoft officially supports 'unlocking' this will be a real way forward for the sort of users (especially small business users like me) who are affected by the current limitations.

I want to know how far this app goes in genuinely resolving users' day-to-day problems (it isn't going to resolve the concerns of those who genuinely think Microsoft have no right to lock down their 'phone operating system, but I am frankly more interested in helping people use the 'phone in everyday life).

I have Googled WPDM, and found various pages about private and public betas, and a Facebook page full of complaints from people wanting support and from people who hadn't twigged that an unlocked 'phone was required; but what I can't find anywhere is a proper review of WPDM in the context of day-to-day real life use of the 'phone.

So I'm going to do one.

The first step is to register as a developer (which I was seriously considering doing anyway). That will be the subject of my next post.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Ashton Singers : Music for Passiontide : St Luke's Church, Stanmore, Winchester : Saturday 9 April 2011 at 7.30 p.m.

Music for Passiontide

Saturday 9 April 2011, 7.30 p.m., St. Luke’s Church, Stanmore, Winchester

Robert White Lamentations for 5 voices
Music by White, Tallis, Victoria, Guerrero, Morales, Gombert, Manchicourt, Lotti

David Glynn organ     
Julian Macey conductor

Robert White’s Lamentations have been described as a high point of Elizabethan choral music.  The concert includes his Lamentations for five voices and hymn settings interspersed with plainsong or organ verses by White and Tallis. Three dramatic settings of Crucifixus for six, eight and ten voices by Antonio Lotti (1667-1740) form the centrepiece of the second half, contrasting with Lenten and Easter motets by Spanish and Flemish sixteenth century composers.

The resonant acoustic of St. Luke’s Church is particularly suitable for this music.

‘I did not want this endless stream of glorious sound to cease - the choir and conductor working as one, performing this music to a standard rarely likely to be bettered.’ (Hampshire Chronicle review of a previous Ashton Singers performance of White’s Lamentations in St Luke’s)

More information, including directions and ticket availability, can be found at

Friday, 18 March 2011

Logicalis IT Forum Spring Meeting at the Bath Spa Hotel, Wednesday 6 April : IBM update, and moving forward from V5R4

The Logicalis IT Forum Spring Meeting will be at the Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, Bath on Wednesday 6th April, with dinner/overnight stay on Tuesday 5th April.

I am delighted to announce that our speaker will be Nigel Adams, who will need no introduction as the IBM i Product Manager, Power Systems.

We will be covering two topics:
• An IBM hardware and software update from Nigel;
• Following a recent exchange of ideas concerning moving forward from V5R4, I am keen to have a round-table discussion on the subject.

I’ll provide a more detailed agenda shortly, but in the meantime please let me know if you would like to attend this event. My ‘phone number is 01225 436302, email