Thursday, 29 November 2007

Push Email

We currently have a problem with using Push Email at our office because we use SBS Server, in that if we enable firewall port access to the server for OWA you can also access the server's Sharepoint system - gah.

I'd find Push Email really useful (and i'm sure other colleagues would too) but our security comes first.

I just happened to be browsing around and noticed a little link at the top of the page. Lo and behold I ended up with a program called Emoze which is a nice Push Email program that can either be run using OWA (If it's available) or your desktop PC. Essentially then, a client program sits on your desktop PC and integrates into IMAP on your PC to monitor your inbox and push changes out. The problem with this method is as soon as you shut your PC down, you lose the functionality as the desktop client connection gets severed.

All you have to do is sign up for a free account, enter your phone number and install the client on your Windows Mobile device and wahey - it works straight away! I like it nice and easy :) In fact, emails ended up in my mobile inbox faster than appearing in my Outlook box on the desktop!

[Devil's Advocate]

  • I am a little unsure of how configurable the software is in terms of how large emails can be that get sent across the GPRS connection. However I confirmed that Emoze does remove attachments from emails automatically and you can click on the attachment in the email on your mobile device to download it next sync.
  • That doesn't really matter because i'm likely to uninstall the program very soon. I work with a laptop at work and as soon as I turn it off to go home i'd lose the push email function anyway. What's the point unless if you have a desktop somewhere logged on as you in the background? Still i'm sure some people will find this invaluable!

[/Devil's Advocate]

Overall a great product!

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Vista slowness on the Asus R2H

This post on the inquirer made me jump for joy that I might see some extra performance from Vista in my Asus R2H. However considering the firm involved confirmed a 50% increase in performance in XP over Vista it made the use of Vista on the UMPC rather hard to swallow. It also reminded me that Gemma tried to use the device on the weekend and complained about the speed of things.

Time to go back to XP methinks...

Advice on CallManager 6 BAT tool

I hate BAT. I truly think that Cisco have actually made the BAT tool more unusable this time round and it sucks!

My advice to you is to start BATting earlier in your implementation process as it's likely to take you a longer amount of time (and leave you with bald patches with all the head scratching).

Oddities include:
  • All sorts of odd fields crop up when you export Device Profiles (most of which are blank) such as Device Pool! When I exported a Device Profile i'd configured and then deleted it from the system I found that (without editing) I couldn't use that exact file to import the same record because I got a "Audible Message Waiting" field was not a valid field. Stupid thing...
  • The User export now contains a "PKID" field which looks to be the CallManager's Primary Key field for users in the system. Attempts to import users while leaving this field blank failed due to a "Duplicate value in index field" error. To fix it I had to generate 250 hex strings and stick them into the spreadsheet.
  • Both the Phones import and the Device Profiles import failed to recognise that I had configured a Service and Service URL buttons. Every attempt to get this to work failed and I ended up manually adding Extension Mobility Service to 250 phones and 250 Device Profiles. I hope I never have to do a 1000 phone system using CM6 - it would just be a nightmare...


Tuesday, 20 November 2007

HTC Touch fun!

Well following on from my previous post (and now that i'm a little better for the sleep!) i'll continue with my experiences with the HTC Touch over my trip to Paris.

General Features

Well i'm sure there isn't much I can say in this section that you couldn't ascertain from any review of the HTC Touch out there on the net - so i'll just have to resort to conjecture and opinion!

The device is very light and thin yet packed with features. I managed to successfully figure out how to BlueTooth pictures to my girlfriend's phone without a hitch, and use the free wireless in the hotel which proved to be a great asset - who needs long distance calls when you have free access to email? I won't venture into the world of a phone call vs email etc, but email is good enough to be able to say "we're safe, and we'll be back before you know it!".

The Touch interface proved to be more useful than I first expected. I soon learned that you could grab the interface and scroll up and down windows, as well as the basics you will have seen in any other review on the web. However I found that there were a few things missing from the interface that i'd seen on the iPhone such as full integration with Pictures and Videos, and other places. The Audio Manager was nicely integrated into the interface for easy access to the music player, and also with the rather useful HTC Today Screen addon, I found the interface sufficiently improved my experience in using the phone over previous touch screen models, such as the Orange SPV M600. There's a few things that need work so for now i'd say it's a great attempt by HTC - but will improve over the next versions.

Applications and Toys

I found the applications and tools on the Touch were as expected of a touch screen based Microsoft Smartphone but it was also nice to see that Orange had not removed any of the Windows Live components. HTC has also added to the phone it's own applications which are certainly an improvement over their previous phones that i've used. These apps include:

  • Task manager integration into the main interface. Tapping and holding the "x" button of an application terminates the process in memory.
  • "Audio Manager" turned out to be a HTC version of Media Player that was integrated into the interface. While this sounds nice, it's clear that HTC haven't managed to integrate original Microsoft components into their own interface as cleanly as we'd like. Audio Manager is pretty rubbish at Playlists and for that reason alone I ended up using Windows Media player as my music player of choice.
  • Weather application on the Today screen is a nice touch (no pun intended); HOWEVER if you're in the UK you'll find that you can only have a choice of London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Plymouth! How lame!

It's worth noting that Remote Desktop is missing. Bummer.

Camera and Photo's

As I mentioned I was suprised at how good the camera was. I grabbed the photo's off the phone using Activesync and it was clear though that I have some kind of tremor! Seriously though - in dark environents it's very easy to blur a photo because of camera shake combined with a poor lense/no flash. It's also quite easy to do the same in the light. Annoying! So great for still photo's but rubbish for action shots.

Here are some example photo's:

Notre Dame:

A night shot from the Eiffel Tower:

Shaky handedness! :

Don't buy this phone on the strength of the camera!

Biggest problems

As always i'm playing devils advocate. The following problems annoyed me sufficiently to post them up:

  • The "Audio Manager" doesn't have a very good library system. Suppose I had an album of music contained in a folder on the memory card. If I wanted to listen to that album, the library manager of "Audio Manager" adds the songs in alphabetical order rather than song ID or filename (such as 01 - songname.mp3). It means that you have to painstakingly contruct playlists for your albums. I stuck with Windows Media Player throughout - which is a great shame.
  • I absolutely hate the Microsoft Smartphone "connections" system. It just isn't intuative! This concept of "Work" and "Internet" is utter crap and I have never got it to work how I want (Or if I did, I couldn't replicate it). For instance I could be connected to WiFi but if I then tried to connect to MSN Messenger it would start off my GPRS connection! ARGH! Also a massive problem is that out of the box, I couldn't/still can't connect to my Exchange server every time. In most cases, the phone would report "Cannot connect using these settings - check your connection settings and try again". If anyone can give me a definitive fix for this, please help!
  • I can't customise the default location of "Pictures and Videos" unless I go into the registry somewhere...
  • There just isn't enough memory for me. When I syncronised my Exchange email for the first time I have 200mb of email altogether (including attachments), and without attachments I couldn't syncronize all of my email to the phone. The biggest problem? You can't (out of the box) change the default repository for standard email (you can only change the location of attachments). Grrr.
  • Sometimes the phone will continue to play music when I press the power button (which is what I want it to do so I can save battery) and other times the music stops. God knows what's going on there...

Overall though - much better than the SPV E650 - which will be on Ebay soon!

Back from Paris!

I'm on the umpc in bed (As you do) and need sleep - So i'll keep this one brief!

  • The HTC Touch has been awesome over the holiday with extra long battery life and connections! I was really surprised at how great the camera was and i'll figure out somewhere to upload the pictures and provide some examples. There were a few grievances though which ill cover soon.
  • I passed my CVoice exam! Only 4 more exams to go...
  • I get company car soon!

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

HTC Touch on it's way!

Hooray for Ebay, my HTC Touch is on it's way, and a steal at £170 for a seemingly brand new device. I was having a read at the specs and what not and I can't say i'm super happy with it when there are upcoming devices round the corner that always seem better! (HTC Polaris anyone?)

Major problems I have are:

  • I ran out of memory too easily on my E650, and to my dismay the Touch has little memory too...
  • No GPS - wah! I'll still have to stick with my external Holox thingy
  • No 3G - not that it's any good in the UK anyway?

But on the plus of course:

  • Small, thin, light and dare I say
  • Gimmicky TouchFLO tech - though i'm a sucker for gimmicks...
  • 1GB card included
  • I get to play with the "full fat" Windows Mobile software

More to come when (hopefully) it turns up tomorrow!

CVoice is hard going boys and girls. It's like the CCNA of Voice: many many general areas to be aware of unlike the more specific CallManager/IPT exam or QoS. I still think I made the right decision of taking the exam first though. Anyone else looking at taking CCVP - pop me a comment!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

On holiday - woohoo!

Finally bagged myself some holiday so i'm looking forward to being fairly PC free over the next week. Oh wait, my CVoice is booked for Thursday! Bugger...

I have a bid on Ebay for a HTC Touch! Come one!!!

Oh and yesterday I had the pleasure of frequenting MPH 07, and had a ride in a "lightly breathed on" (read: engine replaced with a 3.5 litre Rover engine) Lotus Esprit. Now im trying really hard not to figure out how I could buy one.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Dual Mode Phones take their first big leap

Woohoo cheers Cisco!

On the front page of their site they have a news post with a little gem in it. We're finally going to see the first SCCP load for a non-Nokia phone (For the record, the E60, E61 and E65 are utter crap - don't buy one!).

The featured device is a HP iPAQ 600 series phone based on Microsoft Mobile. Hopefully this will pave the way towards more and more Microsoft based devices running in harmony with Cisco CallManager:

I definitely can't wait! Imagine a device that is the pinnacle of mobility and productivity in the future. The following features would be nice!
  • Dual Mode (Wireless and GSM)

  • Push Email

  • GPS

  • Touch functionaity

  • MP3 player (DVB based TV onboard would be cool too!)

  • Camera with flash

Nice one Cisco!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Just a quick catch up...

Unfortunately I haven't had time for many things over the past week. But with install number 2 out of 3 gone live this morning - and all working well; i'm in good spirits!

So just as a quick catchup post i'll mention a few things:

  • Thanks to Stef for offering me a trial version of NetMotion software. Basically it's a very similar product to the Windows Mobile Device Manager software I discussed in my previous post. However hopefully it'll prove to be a well established bit of software - that more importantly is available now and supports my phone. I haven't even managed to download it yet though lol - will grab it soon and report back.
  • The latest install had an interesting problem which personally i'd not seen before - but i'm sure a few people have! We moved the E1 connection from an old PBX to the new gateway but found that no calls would go out - giving us a PSTN message like "Number not recognised". We tried alot of different things such as changing the Type and Plan fields of the ISDN messages, made sure of the formatting of the numbers correctly, and one or two other misguided fudges. As it turns out, the customer had no idea they used carrier pre-select, which meant we had to prefix a number such as 1200 onto the front of the number before it got sent to the PSTN. We happened upon this luckily because someone happened to know a thing or two about how to get on the old PBX, and the 1200 number appeared quite a few times...
  • A nice discovery on a previous installation was that you could do a Call Forward All to literally XXXX. I'll talk about this in my next post.

So last installation to sort out! It's nice and complex which should be fun, and involves CallManager 6.0 Business Edition, a QSIG to DPNSS trunk, a Quescom GSM Gateway, and IPCC Express. Hooray!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Mobile Device Manager goodness!

Usually i'd ignore Microsoft's emails that pop into my inbox but the latest one was a gem. They are introducing the new Microsoft System Centre Mobile Device Centre, which allows for excellent corporate control over Windows Mobile Devices which include remote wipe, remote restrictions of device capabilities (such as disabling Wifi, BlueTooth or the camera on the device), and it's all controlled through Active Directory policies.

What I found most interesting about the software was the new "mobile optimized" IPsec VPN connectivity that allows the device to connect to the HQ and allow the user to have access to "behind the firewall" services and applications. It's certainly no easy task at the moment to start using push email on these devices without accidentally putting a big hole in your security! For instance on our site, an engineer enabled access to our Outlook Web Access but also at the same time managed to allow unsecured access to Sharepoint because it was a Microsoft Small Business Server. This engineer was subsequently bundled into the trunk of a car and has not been seen since...

So the System Centre Mobile Device Manager provides a nice way of providing access to email through a secure VPN tunnel, and uses the following extra nice features:

  • Authentication
  • Session Persistence
  • Fast Reconnect
  • Internetwork roaming
  • Standards based MobIKE, IKEv2 and IPSEC tunnel mode

This software is out mid 2008 apparently, but at the moment only three devices are supported at the moment. I got all excited when I first saw this, but then realised the software isn't out yet, and my lowly Orange E650v isn't supported yet anyway...

  • TYTN II (Tilt)
  • Samsung i600
  • Palm Treo 750

Go here for the Microsoft site, and watch the Webcast!