Windows Phone 7 "January Update"

by Kyle  

Link: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone/en-us/features/update-info.aspx

The update has been announced since before the phone even launched, but now the "January Update" has become a bit more official. Microsoft has posted a site (which used to give a hint to the release date) listing the three main features of the new update:

Copy and paste
Soon you’ll be able to copy text from emails, text messages, web pages, and Office Mobile documents, and paste it anywhere you can type. Using copy and paste is easy and intuitive. In many cases you just tap a word, slide your finger to highlight any additional text, then tap the Copy icon. To insert this text in a message or app, just tap the spot where it should go, then tap the Paste icon. Copy and paste is a handy way to quickly send someone’s latest Facebook update, turn-by-turn directions from Maps, or a must-see link from Internet Explorer Mobile. Once you’ve copied something, you can paste it again and again. The new feature adds to the list of time-saving shortcuts already built into Windows Phone, like the ability to tap an address on a webpage to map it (US only).

Faster apps and games
Nobody likes to wait. That’s why we’ve whittled down the time it takes for apps and games to start up and resume. It’s all part of our focus on getting you to the things you love, easier and faster.

Better Marketplace search
We’ve streamlined Marketplace search to make it easier to find specific apps, games, or music. Press the Search button in the apps or games section of Marketplace and you’ll see only apps or games in the results. Press Search in the music section of Marketplace to search just the music catalog.

Sure, these are all features that would be nice to have (the Marketplace search has been driving me bonkers, honestly), but what about the other missing features? No mention of custom ringtones, separate volume controls, or better SkyDrive integration for Office. There are also a number of looming bugs that desperately need attention, but yet no mention of bug fixes at all. I sincerely hope that the complete lack of new functionality is eclipsed by the shear number of bug fixes included in this new update.

I certainly hope that they can get the update out by the end of January (or at least early February), but it would be nice to get a more solid release date than:

Getting phone updates
How will you know when an update is available? Easy. Your phone is designed to automatically tell you via a pop-up message (unless you’ve turned this option off). For more details, see How do I update my phone software?

Windows Phone Lost My Data

by Kyle  

I have long been a supporter of the Windows Phone 7 OS and phones, but tonight I suffered a major setback. While doing a routine operation, simply searching using the built-in Bing search, the phone crashed. The phone does crash from time-to-time, but mostly it's benign and the phone comes right back up very quickly. This time was not like that at all, the phone came back as a blank slate and wanted me to set everything up again. I tried rebooting the phone (powering off and back on) three or four more times to no avail.

The more unfortunate issue here is the lack of any "cloud" way to recover from such an incident. Sure your music, videos, and podcasts are all safely stored on your computer (which I don't have access to at the moment) and your contacts, calendars, and email are all safely stored in the cloud (as long as you aren't using POP3 and deleting messages from the server), but what about the data generated by the apps that you installed? What about all of the customizations you performed? All of this is lost with absolutely no way to recover.

This isn't all bad news, Windows Phone does one key thing that the iPhone does not, it allows you to setup the phone without needing a computer. Given that I had just gotten into town to visit my parents tonight, I would have been hosed with my computer 2700 miles away, but thanks to this one feature at least I have a working phone with some of my data present.

I really don't care what the cause of the problem is, but Microsoft really needs to get that January update out ASAP. They may not have even fixed the issue that caused this, but hopefully they did fix a bunch of the other nagging, but generally mild, issues I've had with the OS since launch.

Fallout 3, Multi-Core Processors, and You

by Kyle  

Link: http://www.pdsys.org/blog/post/2009/02/07/Fallout-3-VideoDisplay-Freezes-sound-keeps-going.aspx

Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition was only $20 on Steam last night, so I finally decided to pick up a copy.  I've played a lot of the game already on the Xbox 360, so I'm pretty familiar with the beginning areas, but I spent most of that time dealing with an annoying bug where the game would freeze, but not crash.  I could no longer control the game, but the ambient audio continues to play; the only resolution being to kill the process.  Needless to say, it really ruins the experience in the game and worst yet, it seems to be a really common problem for anyone who has more than two processor cores (I have eight, so the problem is multiplied further).  There doesn't appear to be any sort of official fix, but people have reported success with some custom modifications to the configuration.

The game engine has some issues with processors that have more than 2 cores. You can force the game to only use two of them and it will stop the freezing. I haven't had it freeze once since I did this several days ago.

Open up the fallout.ini file in: My Documents\My Games\Fallout3

Find the line:

bUseThreadedAI=0

change it to:

bUseThreadedAI=1

Add another line after it and insert:

iNumHWThreads=2

This will limit the game to 2 cores and prevent the engine bug from causing the game to freeze.

Windows 7 and TortoiseSVN problems

by Kyle  

Link: http://serverfault.com/questions/72561/64-bit-tortoisesvn-on-windows-7-says-file-or-directory-is-corrupted-and-unreadab

For quite a while now I've been having issues with TortoiseSVN reporting that files were corrupt while updating and submitting.  After my working copy became corrupt, yet again, I decided to do some research and turned up a solution to the problem.  Apparently there is a bug, introduced in Windows 7, with the MoveFileEx command that TortoiseSVN uses quite frequently.  The fix will be included with Windows 7 SP1, due out sometime next year, but you can get the hotfix right now at the link below.

Hotfix:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982927/

Ubuntu 8.04 on the Thinkpad T60

by Kyle  

Well, as typically happens with me, I got bored and decided to try something new. This time it was Ubuntu Linux on my trusty Thinkpad T60. I hadn't tried Linux in quite some time and was pleasantly surprised by my experience.

First, my specs:

  • Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0GHz
  • 2GB DDR2
  • 120GB HD
  • ATI Radeon X1400 128MB
  • DVD Burner
  • Intel Pro/Wireless 3945

To start, I was excited that my wireless worked right out of the box with my family's WPA protected network. The install worked flawlessly and I was soon booted into a working operating system. After connecting to the wireless network, I rescanned the repositories and installed all of the provided updates. That's all it takes to get completely up to date.

One of the other things I was really interested in trying out was Compiz Fusion, also knows as "Desktop Effects" in Ubuntu. Trying to enable them using the default "radeon" driver did not work, but enabling the proprietary fglrx driver allowed them to work flawlessly. Although ATI has had a spotty past with their Linux support, this seems to be a very good step forward for them. Even suspending and resuming the computer works almost perfectly.

As far as other hardware, I have yet to try the bluetooth, but it is detected by the operating system when enabled, which is encouraging. In time I will hopefully try that out, but it's not really high on the list of priorities. I've also neglected the modem since I really don't have a use for it, but it looks to require the Linuxant proprietary drivers (which cost money).

The touchpad worked perfectly right out of the box and Ubuntu does provide a small number of options to configure it. One of the problems I did have was the sensitivity of the scroll, but that was easily fixed using a small Xorg configuration change. Just add the following line to the touchpad section of the xorg.conf file:

Option "VertScrollDelta" "130"

A higher number (up to 255 I'm assuming) seems to make the scroll go slower, while a lower number seem to make it scroll faster. As far as the TrackPoint, it worked perfectly as a mouse, but the center scroll button did not function. This was also easily fixed with a few more tweaks to the xorg.conf file. Just add the following to the "Configured Mouse" section of the xorg.conf file:

Option "EmulateWheel" "true"
Option "EmulateWheelButton" "2"

Since I seem to have most of the hardware under control (my biggest concern), I'm spending most of my time trying out new applications and learning about everything that a modern operating system has to offer.

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