Tuesday, July 24, 2007
.Net Rocks! Episode is now Live!
My .NET Rocks! interview about WPF, publishing, and Xiine is now available at www.DotNetRocks.com!. Check it out!
Update: Here is a link to the episode I was on:
Posted @ 2:34 PM by Egger, Markus (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Another .Net Rocks! Appearance
I have done another interview with the popular .NET Rocks! show (podcast). It will go live on July 24th, 2007. The show focusses on WPF as well as Xiine and publishing (both digital and a little bit about print).
Check it out at: http://www.DotNetRocks.com.
Posted @ 5:43 AM by Egger, Markus (email@example.com) -
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
More iPhone Activation...
I have previously talked about my iPhone activation problems. By now, I finally managed to get it activated, more than a day after I purchased it. The actual process of doing the activation through iTunes went quickly, but even after that process, it took another 2 hours (or so) before the phone finally had service. (And yes, I did turn it on and off several times in between, just to make sure).
So then the next step was synchronization with iTunes, and also with my Outlook contacts and calendar, which can be done over a USB cable. One might think that shouldn't be a big problem, but nooooooo.... every time I try to sync with over iTunes on any of my Vista boxes, the system blue-screens. Yup, every time! Not even my Verizon card can blue-screen my system as reliably. Argh! And not only does it blue-screen the system, it also corrupted my Outlook OST file twice, so I had to reconnect to Exchange from scratch. Argh again! So I had to get out an old XP box that I do not really use anymore, and sync with that.
So what is all this about "Mac stuff just works?". That isn't quite the experience I am having.
But wait, there is more! As readers of my travel blog know, I travel a lot. So needless to say that I need to be able to place international calls, and I also need to be able to receive calls when I am in Europe or elsewhere. For some reason, that all didn't get activated properly, so I had to call customer service. I will spare you the whole story, but it took 45+ minutes to get it activated. First of all, I am a new customer, so I guess they aim to piss you off right away, just so you know to expect. I therefore had to go through a special approval process. (Never mind that I have AT&T DSL and an AT&T land line). Part of this process were several security questions, such as "tell me your 3 previous home addresses". Since I also have international addresses, that is somewhat of a tricky question to answer to begin with, but to make matters worse, they also had some business addresses mixed in, which I failed to mention as they are obviously not home addresses. So that almost ruined my chances of getting international services.
I now have international services. It's like a buck a minute to Europe. Not cheap, but I can live with that. What bugs me is that I pay like an extra 10 bucks a month, just to have this active! No minutes included or anything. It is just a fee that they charge so they can charge me more. Furthermore, I pay for all SMS messages. I also pay for Internet ("data") access. 2 cents for 1KB. So say if I go to a nice web site with some images and such, that has something like 500k, that would cost $10. And so would the next click and so forth. So I guess checking my email on Outlook Web Access could easily be in the hundreds of $. Nice! (At least the Safari browser can only render the basic OWA mode and not the DHTML one, so that may mean that the transfer is smaller).
To make matters even worse: There is no way to know how much you transfer (at least according to customer service). Not in the browser, and not in other places. For instance, if I use the "weather" feature which updates itself across the web, I have no idea how much I will be charged. (Is that even legal?!?). And you can not go online and check usage either, because "it may take up to 3 billing cycles before you see international charges". Ah.... why?!? I was also told that "they recommend I keep the international service enabled for a few months after I return from my trip to make sure all the billing happens correctly...". What?!? So I am charged 10 bucks a month extra for this, and then I am expected to keep it activated even when I do not need it, just so they can do their billing right?!? How pathetic is that...
Oh, and at this point, I can't even see any of my minutes online when I check my account. The site says that "due to the recent changes to my plan" (not sure whether that is because I just activated it or because I added the international stuff), I cannot see usage information until the next billing cycle. Great!
Just to put all of this in relation: When I activated my T-Mobile phone, International access was activated automatically. No extra cost. The voice by-minute charge is similar, but data access is completely free even international. (And much faster at the same time).
I am glad I am keeping my Windows Mobile T-Mobile phone as my primary phone...
Posted @ 4:24 PM by Egger, Markus (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Monday, July 16, 2007
12 Coding Languages That Never Took Off...
Check this out for a somewhat humorous (and certainly interesting) list of 12 programming languages that never made it.
Not all of the languages on the list truly fall in the category of "never took off" (such as Delphi), but other languages, such as brainfuck (which supposedly is a real language) I have never messed with before.
Anyway: I thought this was pretty cool. Check it out.
Posted @ 1:10 AM by Egger, Markus (email@example.com) -
Sunday, July 15, 2007
So I broke down and got an iPhone. Yes, I know what I said. Yes, I know I am usually very committed to Microsoft. My opinion is still the same, and the device is just about as useless to me as it gets. But can't a man just every now and then make a stupid decision and buy something that there is no rational explanation for? Exactly!
Plus, this is really just competitive research. And I only plan to use the iPhone as a secondary device and I def. will hold on to my Windows Mobile SmartPhone, which will remain my main mobile device. Take that, Apple!
So anyway: I went to the Apple store today and bought the thing. I had visions of turning it on right away, but no, no such luck! As it turns out, one needs a computer to activate the darn thing. Without activation, it is completely useless. You can't even get to the main UI, no less do anything. The only option without activation is to make an emergency call. I even considered calling 9-1-1, just to try things out, but then I decided to restrain myself to no more than one stupid decision a day...
So now I am finally home, installed iTunes, and am ready to activate the darn thing. And here is what I see:
Welcome to Apple-land, I guess.
I mean, c'mon guys! Can it really be so hard to make something that actually works? Creating web sites that do not have to go down for hours (or days in this case!!!) at a time during maintenance is not rocket science, you know...
Posted @ 1:49 AM by Egger, Markus (firstname.lastname@example.org) -
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Darn the iPhone is sexy! If it only worked right...
Yes, I admit it: I have been looking at the iPhone. But what do you expect? I love cool UIs, and as far as UIs go, the iPhone really shows how its done. And let's face it: The coolness of the iPhone is skin-deep. Frankly, it is a crappy device, but the cool UI is building up all the hype. (For those who have been asking why WPF and Silverlight is important, the iPhone gives a great answer. If it didn't look this good, nobody would care about it...)
So I just had to try it out for myself. I went to one of the local Apple stores and gave it a go. First impression: It is smaller than you'd think. Second impression: The screen is awesomely crisp and bright. Third impression: The UI is just as fluid as it looks in the TV commercials. Very nice! No interruptions. No waits. Everything just transitions. It is extremely cool. Really, very much along the lines of what WPF promises, but on a small device. I could spend hours rotating the device and watching the UI turn around too.
But frankly, there are problems.
First, what's up with the speed?!? AT&T and the slow tech of the phone (no 3G) make for a disastrous experience. No wonder no carrier in Europe is interested in carrying it. Unless you have a wireless connection, you are stuck with what is basically worse than dial-up. Yikes! Can you say "useless"?
Then there is the whole Exchange sync problem. POP and MAPI connections? WTF? This means the email can't be synched in any real way. Sure, I could forward my email, but then I'd have to handle and read it all twice (on the iPhone and on Exchange). The last thing I need is having to touch every email twice. Besides, there is more to Exchange than email. There is the calendar, contacts, and tasks that are very important to me. There is no sync there. Can you say "lame"?
Then, there is the web browser. "Not a watered down version of the Internet", they say. Well, the browser is pretty nice (and scrolling and zooming a page is very cool with the multi-touch touch screen). But the problem is that the thing doesn't support Flash or Java or Silverlight. Not even DHTML really. So a very large sampling of the web pages I looked at either looked very bad, or didn't work at all. And I wasn't looking at fancy or unusual pages. It may not be watered down, but you better enjoy looking at 10 year old pages, because everything beyond that doesn't seem to work right. Can you say "broken"?
One of the oddest things is the programmability model. So there is this super-fancy device with this really cool UI, but as a developer, the best thing I can build for it is a simple web page that in no way fits in with the overall super-smooth experience of the iPhone?!? I gotta go out and program a web page like I did a dozen years ago? Someone from Apple said "this is when the web will really take off...". Hu? Let me clue you in guys: The web this phone supports took off in 1995. Even if you sell a few million iPhones, it will not have any impact on today's Internet. I doubt it would have had 12 years ago. Cheez! Can you say "nuts"?
Also, what is up with the weird SIM cards? And what about the battery that can't be replaced? And the non-standard headphone jacks? And the low-res camera? Can you say "weird"?
So there I stood. Rotating the device back and forth. Boy that is smooth. I like navigating listboxes up and down with the simple physics allowing me to flick things up and down. It is awesome. And you know what: I am angry at Apple! Angry, because they built such a cool device, and in a lot of ways I want to buy it anyway. But the thing is just so utterly useless to me, that I really couldn't possibly justify buying one...
But at least, they created a device everyone else should now aim for. They raised the bar on the UI side for sure. Now if someone could only build a phone that combines the coolness of the iPhone with the features of Windows Mobile, and we'd really have something. Maybe Silverlight can provide some of that, although that will be tough, since Silverlight doesn't support 3D.
Posted @ 12:32 AM by Egger, Markus (email@example.com) -