A social media fairy tale: How a mayor got a new job

And now for something a little different. The true(-ish) story of how I got my new job as a SysAdmin for LinkedIn …

LinkedIn London

Once upon a time, there was a country boy from the shire of Bedford. One lucky day he received a Windows Phone 7 smartphone from the wizards at Microsoft. It let him do lots of magical things. His favourite trick was to check-in using the Foursquare spell. He got so good at using this spell he managed to conjure himself into the mayor of Bedford train station.

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I am now an official developer for Windows Phone 7

I was very fortunate to get gifted a 12 month AppHub subscription from Microsoftie Mike Ormond.

This means I can develop apps and games for Windows Phone 7 and Xbox!

This is all very exciting and means I can get into development again. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any hardcore coding and I’m looking forward to the opportunity. I’ve had loads of ideas for apps as I have been using my own Omnia 7 phone so that should keep me busy.

As a quick test I submitted an app I created a few months back with AppMakr. This is a free service that helps you build apps from any RSS feed e.g. a blog, twitter feed,YouTube channel etc. It was really easy to do and also lets you add in advertising. This means I can offer my app for free while also funding next years AppHub subscription. I also found the App Submission walkthrough on CodeGuru very useful. Hopefully I’ll get some more useful apps out soon and who knows, maybe even a game, but for now I’m hitting the submit button and awaiting approval!

WP7-submit

Ever wondered what the 3G+ icon means on your Smartphone? Is that 4G?

4G pictureI I was reading a well worded explanation of what the catch-all term “4G” is over on blog.three.co.uk.

I was really pleased to hear their plans on 4G. I have heard the term used a lot on US blogs and it didn’t seem very straight-forward. I wasn’t even sure if the UK would be using the term.

3g-plusI have a Samsung Omnia 7 and that gets great data speeds. That could be partly down to the new IE browser on Windows Phone 7 though. In most areas I get a “3G+” icon in the top corner instead of just “3G”. This made me wonder am I getting the HSPA+ service already? That would mean I could potentially get speeds up to 128Mbps!

Continue reading Ever wondered what the 3G+ icon means on your Smartphone? Is that 4G?

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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Simple but effective wallpapers for your desktop & phone

Lights

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

Continue reading Using ActiveSync for Scalix on a Windows Phone 7 Device

Zune – The iTunes alternative

Update: Zune is dead 😦

Well it’s actually regenerated into Xbox Music. A lot of the content on here is still valid but the links may not work. Go to music.xbox.com for full details

Don’t you just hate the fact that sometimes you need to install bloated, slow iTunes to download and organise your music collection? Well stress no more, coinciding with the release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft have opened up Zune to international waters.

Zune goes where you go. Whether on your PC, Xbox 360, or Windows Phone 7 you can enjoy, discover, and share your entertainment anytime you want. zune.net

What’s a Zune?

The Zune software is a media player, originally designed to manage Microsoft’s own mp3 player (iPod competitor) the Zune. You would use the Zune app to sync your music to your device or download new music from the online marketplace. It is very similar in functionality to how iTunes works with iPods. However, it differs dramatically in it’s design. You can’t help but be impressed with how the software works. I installed it a couple of years ago, even though I didn’t have a Zune (as I’m in the UK) purely because it looks so good. I could also use it to download podcasts so I could sync them with my generic mp3 player.

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UK Tech Days Event Review, Transitioning to the Cloud

steve ballmer on stageI spent the day at the latest UK Tech Day, a free event provided by Microsoft for IT Pros and Developers. This one was titled “Transitioning to the Cloud”. Wanting to get my head into the Cloud (and more specifically what it actually means) I took the trip down to see Steve Ballmer & Co at the London ICC

Covering Windows Azure, Windows 7 and the soon-to-be-released Windows Phone 7 and IE9, we’ll show you how multiple screens and a cloud will change the way you think about development

The event was aimed more at developers but there was still a lot of good info for IT Pros. I was hoping to do a bit of a live blog/twitter but due to no free wi-fi (shame on you Microsoft) I was stuck to taking a few notes an my netbook

Ballmer’s Keynote

Steve Ballmer discusses new opportunities for developers

Steve Ballmer took to the stage looking very well, if a little bit tired from his current European tour. He didn’t reveal much in the way of any upcoming secrets but he did give an honest and inspiring look at the future of Microsoft

He believes we are at a transition point in terms of software. Not only how it is developed but how it is being consumed. Microsoft learnt a lot from developing Bing about how Azure needs to work. They realised that one needs to build solutions with the cloud in mind from the get go. In fact, they are going through the process themselves transitioning, or, repurposing their own systems to live in the cloud (i.e. SharePoint).

Read more on Ballmer and about each of the sessions after the jump

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