Review: Windows Phone 7

Live tilesThis is a continuation from my previous hardware review of my Samsung Omnia 7

Windows Phone 7 (WP7) is Microsoft’s latest and greatest operating system (OS) for smartphones. They have left behind a long legacy of Windows Mobile code (stopping at v6.5) and built a new OS from the foundation of their Zune mp3 player. Transitioning an mp3 player into a phone sound like a familiar idea? Well it’s no secret that this is Microsoft’s final chance to regain some of the market that Apple swept away from them. Their slow response to change, or innovate, also led to Google’s Android OS get a strong foothold in the market as well as a loyal following. So, has Microsoft done enough to sway the tide? Check out my review below to see if I think it has.

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Review: Samsung Omnia 7

I was a very lucky winner of a competition on the ubelly blog, receiving the amazing prize of a Samsung Omnia 7 smartphone featuring the new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating system.


I received it mid-December so I have had just over a month to get used to it. This review is mainly focussing on the Omnia 7 hardware, I have reviewed the Windows Phone 7 OS in a separate review. This is my first ever smartphone after using a Nokia 6233 for 3 years so bear in mind I won’t be comparing it to any androids or iPhones.

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Simple but effective wallpapers for your desktop & phone


I used to regularly check InterfaceLIFT for wallpapers (a.k.a. desktop backgrounds). It has some great quality photographs on there and most are available to download in pre-set sizes from an iPhone to a widescreen 2560X1600. They have an ever-growing selection on the official Windows 7 site too, from single wallpapers to full blown themes. Recently, however, I have been craving the simple things in life. I love it when amazing gadgets that can do incredible things are able to look simple and understated (probably why the iPod became so popular). Thankfully, I have found the site Simple Desktops.

Simple Desktops: a collection of bling, drop shadow, and gradient free desktops to help keep you stay focused but also provide just enough eye candy to not be bored. It’s here because finding these around the web is just too hard.

Attribution for the images is given to their creator, but it doesn’t extend onto your personal desktop. They look great on the desktop and lot’s of them also work really well on the Windows Welcome/Lock screen (You can modify that by using the Tweaks Logon app).

I have created a nice selection of them for my WP7 Omnia 7. It’s currently rocking “Lighty” (seen above) by flickr user Deibo. The bulb looks great on the AMOLED screen, it has a very realistic glow. The best way to get it on the device is to do the following

  1. Download the image from Simple Desktops
  2. Open it in an graphics programme (I use Paint.Net)
  3. Resize or crop the image to fit your devices screen size
    1. Set the Selection tool to “Fixed” with a size of 480×800 pixels (for the Omnia 7)
    2. Move the selection marquee around until you are happy
    3. Hit the Crop button
    4. Save as a PNG
  4. Email the picture as an attachment (you can only transfer JPGs with Zune)
  5. Open it on the device and choose “Use as Wallpaper”

Other Sources

  • The Desktop Wallpaper Project is another one but a bit too “busy” for phones”.
  • I also just found (thanks to the My Kind of Phone blog) about GelaSkins. These are custom made stickers that are a perfect fit to your phone, laptop, game console. They have a couple of Windows 7 Phones there as well but you can download any of the designs as a wallpaper for free! Check out the Omnia 7 gallery.

Have you found any other great sources for modern wallpapers? Let me know in the comments

p.s. don’t you just hate it when people call them screensavers. Drives me wild Angry smile. A screensaver is what you computer displays when the computer is idle, not what you see all the time behind your icons!!! I generally frown upon screensavers anyway as it’s much more power-friendly to just have the monitor switch off.

Using ActiveSync for Scalix on a Windows Phone 7 Device

scalix-live-tileScalix is an Exchange alternative. It’s not as fully featured (and development seems to be at a standstill) but it is a lot cheaper than Microsoft’s offering. They even have a free community edition but that doesn’t offer Outlook or Exchange connectivity.

We had successfully managed to sync Scalix to Windows Mobile 6 devices as well as iPhones and I was hoping it would also work on WP7.

My first attempt failed and ,after reading that WP7 only uses a subset of ActiveSync functionality, I presumed it wasn’t possible. However, after struggling with IMAP, and not wanting to go near POP3, I managed to get ActiveSync up and running on my Omnia 7.

I can sync my calendar, contacts and email just like what is available with an “Outlook” (Exchange) account. You also get “push” email functionality and a nice “Live Tile” for your home screen (although not as cool as my attempt above). It doesn’t seem to sync if I flag an email but if I read or delete one then that change syncs.

Read on to get the walkthrough

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How to recover deleted Windows Mobile contacts after removing an Exchange connection

imageHad a bit of a disaster at work the other day. I was setting up a new laptop for one of the head honchos at work. Everything was going well, the user was migrating from a Lenovo ThinkPad R61i, with Windows XP & Office 2003, to a ThinkPad Edge 15, with Windows 7 and Office 2007. Quite a big initial change to get used to but worth it. The final job I had to do was sync her HTC Windows Mobile 6.1 phone with her Outlook Contacts, Calendar etc.

I installed the Windows Mobile Device Centre ( a.k.a. ActiveSync 5) and set up the relationship with the laptop. The initial synchronisation started and it said transferring 0/340 contacts. Unfortunately this never got past 0 (after 2 hours of waiting!). My experience with ActiveSync in the past was that if there was ever a sync problem you should clear all the old syncing profiles on the phone and PCs and start again. This is where I made my mistake. The phone contained an old Exchange connection for her previous job. I quickly removed it, she had not worked for the company for years and it wasn’t syncing anymore. However, little did I know that any contacts she had added to her phone after leaving were attached to the dead Exchange account! Microsoft’s handling of removing Exchange accounts mean that any data on the phone is erased “by design” without any kind of options as to what is left on the device. I can understand that from a security point of view. In theory the data would still be on the Exchange server so no big deal. Unfortunately, this option wasn’t available to me. The fault was really that the phone was adding contacts to the inactive Exchange account not the phone’s local contacts. It seems that lots of frustrated people were experiencing similar kinds of loss over at but there seemed to be no workaround to recover them. Read on to find out how successful I was.

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Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else

Just a quick repress here, I never new a free theme could be so malicious. Doesn’t just apply to WordPress though, could be easily as dodgy in Joomla, Drupal or any “Theme” .

Check out the link below and find out how to check if you theme is hiding anything nasty

Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else – WordPress, Multisite and BuddyPress plugins, themes, news and help –

Thom’s HeadSpace 2010 in review

I was going to find out all this info for myself but then WordPress went and packaged it all up for me in an email. You didn’t get that on Windows Live Spaces!

I migrated from Spaces at the end of September so these stats are probably a bit squiffy. I had a great year blog-wise and have made loads of connections with other IT Pros through the various events I’ve been going to and on twitter too. Another highlight was being nominated for the IT Pro Blogger of the Year at the Computer Weekly Blog Awards. That came as a really big surprise and thanks to everyone who supported me (even though a did fall a few votes short of being the winner). Hopefully this blog will continue to grow in 2011, become a bit less sporadic and rambling, and continue being of use to whoever stumbles across it. I’m participating in the WordPress Post A Week challenge so there should be at least 52 posts this year.

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!. (Ed. I have no idea what this actually means!)

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,500 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 21 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 61 posts. There were 77 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was September 29th with 96 views. The most popular post that day was Standardising Outlook Fonts using Group Policy Preferences.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for windows 7 fall theme, windows 7 beach theme, outlook fonts via registry, house icon, and windows 7 fall themes.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Standardising Outlook Fonts using Group Policy Preferences May 2009


Installing Windows XP over the network using Windows Deployment Services January 2010
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Windows 7 Beach Theme June 2009


Autumn Fall Theme for Windows 7 September 2009


Getting Outlook 2010 to read your emails out loud September 2010

Ed. Slightly embarrassing that two of the top 5 a for Windows 7 themes but hey, all traffic is good traffic right?!?