Windows Mobile is now “Windows phone”
Wednesday, September 23, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik

Microsoft has started its marketing engine to rebrand the suffering ‘Windows Mobile’ operating system and make things easier by renaming it to “Windows phone”.

Windows phone logo

Personally, I like the simplicity of the new name.  The fact remains though that most people don’t even realize they have a Windows phone.  It’s either an HTC, Samsung, Toshiba, or another name brand that people recognize their phone as.  Only the geeks know them as Windows Mobile devices.

Therefore the new Windows phone name brand should help to better communicate the operating system on these and many other devices.  Allowing users to make a more informed decision, as well as put pressure on Microsoft to enhance it further.


Windows Marketplace for Mobile
Windows Marketplace for Mobile
Also coming soon is Microsoft’s own app store for their Windows phones.

As a developer for this platform,  submitting apps and getting them certified during these last couple of months has had more than its share of growing pains in dealing with the Marketplace app store.  But rest assured you will be able to find some of my fine applications within the Marketplace when it finally opens to the public in October 2009.

You’ll still be able to buy the same apps through my web site, and I would actually prefer that, since Microsoft takes a bigger commission (30%) using their Marketplace, versus my sites’ eCommerce channel (8.9%).  But such is business, and only time will tell if the Marketplace for Mobile becomes a success.


 

How Code Gets Written These Days
Wednesday, August 26, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik

Nobody writes an application from scratch any longer.  There is always some example source code, framework, or existing product code base to start from.

Adaption is the key.

The experienced software developer isn’t someone who holds an academic wiki in their head of every platform API and language construct.

Instead they carry a custom built virtual toolbox containing their own library collection of code snippets, solutions, and resources that they have gathered and constructed over the years.  Which can then quickly be reused, adapted, or at the least, provide direction to where an answer to a particular problem might be found.

Google logo in C code
IntelliSense and Google

Modern IDE ’s such as Visual Studio with its IntelliSense now provide “a convenient way to access descriptions of functions and parameter lists, and speeds up software development by reducing the amount of name memorization needed and keyboard input required.“

And if that doesn’t help, then sites like The Code Project, Stack Overflow, and of course the almighty Google, provide the necessary backup.

This is how code gets written these days, and applications get done.

It is also how people learn to write code, by using open source and “standing on the shoulders of giants .”


 

Handlebar Mounted Phone
Monday, July 20, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik

The whole point of mobility is to be anywhere, and I write my software for people who take their mobile devices outside.

Exploration, adventure, and travel.  These are the things I look forward to, and thus enjoy field testing my own software.

Straight from the appliedpda.com labs, comes the latest on-going experiment of having mounted an HTC Touch Diamond phone to the handlebars of my mountain bike.


Handlebar Mounted Phone 1


It’s not pretty, but very effective.

Model Magic bucket
The secret comes in the form of a brilliant product called Model Magic.  Originally designed for young children to express their creative talents through modeling with it.  The material is safe, clean, cheap, and air-dries within 24 hours to a firm and rubbery substance that holds the shape it was molded in.

It makes for an excellent shock absorber as well as a perfect fit for any device you sculpt it for.  You can even paint it any colour afterwards, but I just left it stock white for simplicity.




LocateMe Goes Rugged


Handlebar Mounted Phone


Having a fancy touch screen device on your bike brings the feeling of owning one of those extravagant new luxury vehicles.

Using the LocateMe app, I was able to transmit my location to people at home regarding where I was on the trail.  The speaker phone was also very clear and useful to call others.  Best of all, the touch screen proved to be a really nice interface that worked well even with gloves on.

While I mostly used it to display GPS location data, in due time, other sensors can be attached to perform logging of environmental conditions, health monitoring, even the physical bike characteristics like g-force measurements of the shock absorbers.

In the future, a simple bike ride in the woods will return with more than just muddy pedals and flat tires.  It will carry experiential data too.



 

What Is Your Personal Management Style?
Tuesday, July 14, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik
Get stuff done

Simply put, I believe in the “Get s%#\$ done” management style.

It’s simple, scales well, and focuses on producing output.

Because you don’t get praised for starting something, it’s only when you complete it.

 

“Citizen Scientists”
Wednesday, July 08, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik
Citizen Scientists
Just as I imagined, this article from The Economist, illustrates the coming trend and applications for the mobile phone world, with regards to more sensors in phones and the crowd-sourcing possibilities.

My dream of the Star Trek tricorder in everybody’s hand will soon be a reality.

And I plan to help make it happen.

:)

 

People Don’t Read Anymore, They Merely Skim
Thursday, June 18, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik
Skim Milk
If I leave my RSS reader alone for too long it will eventually implode into a black hole under its own weight of unread articles that have piled up.  Most of which will be ignored by the time I get to them.  And those that I do end up reading, better be short, sweet, and to the point.  An added picture that summarizes the writing most clearly will usually get more attention than the accompanying text.

This is because most people online merely skim the text for keywords and partial sentences, in the hope that the information will piece itself together in their brain and make sense.  All to save time, and move on to the next article for skimming.

The massive bombardment of inorfamtoin ovrelod has adpatd our brians to wrok like a programmed search engine.  To seek out bits from text and pictures but never the whole composition.  As if we’ve lost our patience for it.

Which can be frustrating when you spend a large amount of time writing a detailed email, to only then have to repeat it again to the person you just sent it to, because they skimmed over it and missed all the best jokes.

This realization has forced me to reduce my RSS subscriptions substantially and begin using the telephone more often when trying to explain ideas to people.  I suppose Twitter’s success partially stems from this skimming of emails and blogs.

For now, if you have read this article fully, did you catch the typos?  Or did you skim?


 

How to get an External GPS Working with an HTC Touch Diamond Windows Mobile Phone
Wednesday, June 03, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik

The HTC Touch Diamond phone supports a built-in QualComm GPS receiver, which in most cases works fairly well, but its sensitivity to acquiring satellites quickly is still lacking.

In my experience, the moment I near the vicinity of a larger city, such as Toronto, and turn ON the internal GPS, it will almost always fail to lock-on any satellites.  This is without even getting into the downtown core with skyscrapers and other large buildings.

Before this, I used to use the OnCourse SiRF star III Bluetooth GPS Receiver with a simple PDA, which worked extremely well, even indoors.

So given that the HTC Touch Diamond phone has Bluetooth support, I decided to try using the OnCourse external GPS with it.

Within a few minutes I had the two devices linked over Bluetooth and configured the External GPS parameters under the Settings -> System dialog.


Bluetooth Settings


External GPS Settings


Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite that simple.

When it failed to work, I reviewed my steps including the External GPS parameters under Settings -> System dialog, and noticed that the GPS Hardware port was not being saved.


GPS Hardware Port


So, as usual, the first step is to ask for help from the Google oracle.  When that failed to retrieve a working solution, I rolled up my sleeves and went Registry diving.

I tested the various Windows Mobile Emulators I use for developing my software, and the External GPS parameters were being saved properly on them.  It was then just a matter of comparing the registry details with my HTC Touch Diamond phone.

The Windows Mobile Emulators contained a "Control Panel Configured Device" key located under [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\GPS Intermediate Driver\Drivers] that was missing on my HTC Touch Diamond phone.

So I added this missing key, copying also its parameters from the Emulator images, and the resulting setup was formed.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\GPS Intermediate Driver\Drivers]
"CurrentDriver"="Control Panel Configured Device"
"CurrentDriverExt"="Control Panel Configured Device"
"SleepOnNoData"=dword:000003e8
"RetryWaitOnError"=dword:00000003
"OutputBufferSize"=dword:00001000
"InputBufferSize"=dword:00001000

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\GPS Intermediate Driver\Drivers\Control Panel Configured Device]
"CommPort"="COM2:"
"InterfaceType"="COMM"


PHM drivers    PHM Control Panel


When the "CurrentDriver"="Control Panel Configured Device", the GPS Hardware port setting is then saved properly, and I am able to establish a working connection with the OnCourse external GPS.

To revert back to using the HTC internal GPS, I simply rename the "CurrentDriver" registry keys to match their appropriate setting.


Internal Driver    External Driver


This may seem like an inconvenience to always having to rename a registry key every time I want to switch to using an external GPS, and ideally a little app that would do it for me would be better.  Maybe I’ll write one if there is enough interest.

 

The Ideal Workplace
Monday, May 25, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik

Cubicle posterWhen a person gets hired by a company they are usually given an area to call their own with a desk and maybe a telephone.

Whether given a full office, cubicle, or a random corner in the basement near the furnace, it is up to the individual afterwards to make that space most conducive to their own style of working.

In my experience of employment for many companies, most people I noticed, do very little to customize their work space.  Apart from a few pictures and maybe a small poster or two, it rarely exhibits an area of interest, let alone creative process.

I’m not exactly sure what attributes to such mediocrity.  But if everyone looks like just another number in a row and column, than it doesn’t take much to feel dispensable.

What if though, during your initial commencement it was communicated clearly that you would be given a budget and the freedom to design your own work space?

You could choose the location, the equipment you desire, maybe even improve the interior decorating like chairs, plants, and the colour of the walls.  Knowing of course that you also had to work with other people, how would you plan your own area?

Either way, the goal would be for you to make the most enjoyable and productive office space you desire.  A place where you enjoy being at, versus dreading it.

I would imagine that such a personal investment by every employee would make people happier to work at that company, and be more loyal too.


 

Free Minor Revision Updates on All Software
Friday, May 01, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik
CD with patch
Whenever you buy any software product from appliedpda.com, you are automatically entitled to receive free minor revision updates to it.

A minor revision number is the (.xx) digits following the decimal of the major revision (X.) number.

So for example, product versions 1.0 to 1.9, or 2.0 to 2.9, are free.
While versions 1.x to 2.x are not.

Free minor revision upgrades allow a more agile approach to releasing updates earlier and getting your feedback sooner.

 

CN TOWER CLIMB for WWF-Canada
Sunday, April 12, 2009, by Sebastian Dwornik

CN Tower, Toronto It has been two (2) years since I last climbed this giant monument and set a personal record of 14 minutes and 17 seconds.

It was not easy, and to this day I wonder how I still managed to do it.

There is a park near me which has a fair amount of stairs leading to the top of an escarpment.  Today’s first, brief practice run reminded me all too sudden of the pain and mental stress it takes to push oneself over the envelope.

The focus, determination, and constant struggle, of literally every step along the way to the top, can be synonymous to pursuing many other goals in life.

Whether it’s building your own business, beginning a new career, raising a family, or completing an important project, it all consists of many small details, everyday, to maintain a level of forward momentum.  Until finally these small increments over time bring to fruition big changes.

I believe overnight success is a myth.  Because if it did occur overnight, you can bet it will be gone by the next morning.

True success is rather slow and arduous.
WWF logo

In the end, when you finally reach the top, it is the journey, in itself, that embeds the real lessons of personal growth and fulfillment.  The rest is just a pleasant view.

So on this upcoming Saturday, April 18, 2009, I will once again push my limits for charity (WWF), and if you feel generous in supporting me on this cause, you can help sponsor me too.


 

Welcome to my App World

My name is Sebastian Dwornik and I am an entrepreneur located near Toronto, Canada.

Here you will find my thoughts on all matters regarding software, design, business, and sometimes life in general.

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