Is Blogo the New Windows Live Writer

Back in the day (“the day” being 5 years ago), I used to use Windows Live Writer to compose updates for my blog(s). Loved it. Then I switched to a Mac, and Microsoft more or less abandoned Windows Live Writer. Now I’m trying a new piece of desktop software for blogging named Blogo. We’ll see if this gets me writing more. No idea, but I suppose I will get at least 1 post out of my $14.99 investment: This one.

So far the interface looks pretty clean, and easy to use. I worry I might miss my thousands-of-customizable-widgets thing on my generic WordPress installation, but maybe ditching those is a good thing. This actually reminds me a lot of the WordPress app on iOS – simple, clean, easy to post. 

So perhaps a new chapter of blogging on JonWestfall.Com is upon us. Or more than likely, I’ll still stay busy, and forget to blog!

#51 Why Did You Hate Me?

Why did you hate me, I ask you today?
I just tried to lighten your load.
I asked if you needed me to help and stay.
I did not try to annoy or goad.

But you banished me after a decade or so.
I was forced to retire away.
I have just one thing to say before I forever go.

I hope all your letters turn out like crap.
— Sincerely, Clippy the Paperclip

Top Image: paperclip © by chrisdlugosz

[SSDay]

clippy and his likeness are property of Microsoft. Hopefully they'll like my poem and not complain ;)

Why So Much Difficulty Outlook?

OK, so today I’m taking a break from the world of Linux to focus on the world of Windows. Windows 7 to be exact, which now lives on my Toshiba L305 alongside Ubuntu (dual-boot). I’m putting 7 through the paces which for me means installing Office 2007 and setting up Outlook 2007. I have a somewhat screwy outlook 2007 setup to begin with since I run my e-mail off my own server with it’s own self-signed certificate. So I did what I felt I had to do: Exported the root certificate from another computer, started up mmc.exe on the Win7 box and added the “Certificates” snap-in (Under the Machine account) and then imported the root certificate to the “Trusted Root Certificate Authorities” folder.

So far so good. Outlook Web Access (OWA) popped up in IE without any complaining about my cert, but Outlook on the desktop (Formerly known as RPC over HTTP, now known as Outlook Anywhere) was being a pain. Luckily I found this page on Technet Social which talks about similar issues. One post mentioned formatting the username as \ which I thought was nuts as I’ve always used my e-mail address. But I tried it and…. amazingly… it worked. So that’s what it took to get Outlook setup!

Strangely enough it now always requires I use the \ format. I don’t know if this is inherent to Windows 7 or what. Not ready to rule it a bug as it may simply be I messed up something on my Exchange server since I last set up Outlook.

Feel In Touch: The Samsung Omnia Reviewed

http://omnia.samsungmobile.com/

Product Category: Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional SmartphoneManufacturer: SamsungWhere to Buy: Expansys [Affiliate]Price: $689 USD (16 GB), $634 USD (8 GB)Specifications: 5 MP Camera, 3.2 TFT WQVGA Touch screen (240 x 400), Bluetooth 2.0, Wi-Fi 802.11g, Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE, HSDPA 7.2 Mbits, TV-out, FM Radio, Integrated GPS, microSDHC, 1440mA battery

Pros:

  • Fun to use & responsive;
  • Sleek design;
  • Innovative value-added features (e.g. flashlight, haptic feedback).

Cons:

  • Widget Bar: full of promise, low on usability;
  • No multitouch ability;
  • Price and availability.

Summary: I’ve posted news on the Samsung Omnia over the last few months and found it to be interesting enough to purchase. What I found when I opened the box got me excited to be using Windows Mobile again, something I doubted could ever happen. Read on for my experience re-discovering the OS through Samsung’s vision of usability.Getting To Know The Omnia

The Omnia measures 113 x 49 x 15.1 mm (4.45 x 1.93 x .59 in) and weighs in at 140g (4.94 oz). It feels nice and light to the touch without feeling cheap. The first thing that a Windows Mobile user will notice is the absence of a normal D-Pad. The Omnia sports a call send, call end, and action button on the front, with the action button holding a surprise. Not only does it work like the normal center button on a D-Pad, it IS the D-Pad. Moving your finger from side to side or up and down will scroll as if using a normal D-Pad. And if that doesn’t float your boat, Samsung has also built in a mouse function that will let the little black action button control an on-screen mouse pointer. Functionality similar to a laptop’s touch pad is provided, with fairly good accuracy while mousing around the screen. Turning the device on shows Samsung’s unique homescreen, slightly customized below (I needed a time readout!).

Figure 1: Samsung’s widget bar, which is shown by clicking the arrow has widgets that can be dragged onto the home screen. The widgets, however, are not customizable (e.g. you cannot add new or remove existing).

For those of you not into Samsung’s new look, they also provide a more normal home screen layout sans widgets. Below is the layout I’ve been using.

Figure 2: Alternate home screen, pressing Settings slides the icons to the right and shows Figure 3.

Figure 3: The settings panel, allowing you to quickly toggle vibrate, Motion (the ability to detect orientation changes and adjust screen rotation), USB mode (Activesync vs. Mass Storage), on-screen mouse, and flashlight (activating the LED flash in continuous mode).

In addition to the funky home screen that is pretty usable, the device also has its own Main Menu, in a further attempt to prevent you from ever having to deal with Windows Mobile’s ugly Programs menu (well, ugly by some standards – I actually like it…)

Figure 4: Samsung’s Main Menu.

Figure 5: Modifying the Shortcuts.

The Omnia also includes Samsung’s “Touch Player”, a more finger centric and friendly interface to listen to music compared to regular old Windows Media Player that we’ve had since the stylus-intense days of old.

Which brings up an interesting point regarding a stylus and the Omnia – namely they don’t want you putting the thing anywhere near the screen. Sure, they include a stylus (a retractable one at that), but it doesn’t have a silo in the device to store it. In fact, the best they can do is put a loop on the end of it so you can hook it to a hook on the device. Why? Well, they want you using your fingers see – and they will not be deterred by us old timers who long for our styli!

Figure 6: Samsung’s Touch Player

Integrated Camera

The Omnia sports a 5mp camera, with LED flash as well as video recording support. The camera works very well under direct lighting, and in the dark thanks to the flash. It’s medium lighting situations where you may get some blurring (as in the third example shot below). Overall the Omnia’s 5mp means that I don’t have to carry around my pocket camera/camcorder, however I find myself still putting it in my bag – just to be on the safe side. For each of the sample shots below, click on the image to get the full, undoctored, picture.

Figure 7: Looks warmer than it really is…

Figure 8: Everyone needs a dressed-up Jamaican Head.

Figure 9: Notice how the medium light makes this picture the blurriest of the three.

“Wow Cool” Features

The Omnia shines in the areas that Samsung has taken the time to improve over a stock Windows Mobile 6.1 core. While WinMo 6.1 is extremely powerful, it’s not anything new or interesting for those of us who have been using these devices for quite some time, and it darn sure isn’t anything that would make you stop and go “Wow… Cool”. But here are some things I found somewhat innovative and “Wow… Cool”-ish about the Omnia.

  • The front camera that is actually useful for those without voice calling: it detects light level to increase or decrease screen brightness, and also (in conjunction with the accelerometer) can enter an “etiquette” mode. You turn the phone over on its face, and it automatically mutes all sounds.
  • The Finger Mouse. Toggle-able from the homescreen, it turns the D-Button (the black button that is sensitive to touch and can act like a D-Pad in one mode or control an on-screen mouse in another). Not useful in all situations, but in some it really shines. Hence the much appreciated toggle on the Samsung today screen for it.
  • The built-in Samsung SIP that’s actually surprisingly useful for someone with big fingers to enter text into. For the ultimate dream though, a third-party app like SPB’s Full-Screen Keyboard really makes one forget about a dedicated keyboard.
  • The flashlight feature that lets the light used for a “flash” actually serves some function. Hold the volume key down for 5 seconds and it turns on, letting you navigate your way through a dark room.
  • The haptic feedback (how did I get to bullet four without mentioning this already): it’s very nice to get some responsiveness after a keypress, a screen rotation, even a quick button press. The weird thing? This could have been implemented years ago – we all had “vibrate” motors!
  • The value added applications such as an RSS feed reader, world clock, reader, converter and even video editor. Nevermind the FM radio built in as well as TV-OUT capabilities.
  • The smoothness of integration. While some gaps are present, Samsung excels at providing one of the best integrations of OEM components and Windows Mobile that I’ve seen to date.

Head to Head: Omnia vs. Touch Pro

The Omnia came to me mid-October, and after playing with it for awhile, I realized that I needed to view it in comparison to another popular device of its generation, the Touch Pro (a.k.a. the AT&T Fuze). So, without another Windows Mobile Maven around me to bum a device off of, I did the only sensible thing – I bought a Fuze at my local AT&T store (WM Devices are my only real vice, I decided to forgo excessive drinking in my undergraduate days to have cash for them..;). Anyway, it is that purchase that was the genesis of this piece of the review: the head to head comparison. I’ll compare the two devices on four important qualities: Touch Responsiveness, Windows Mobile Customization, Daily Use, and Subjective Value (i.e. my own opinion).

Touch Responsiveness

Quick Response is something near and dear to most Windows Mobile Enthusiasts, and let’s face it, our beloved operating system can at times have the quick response of a party-loving college freshman on Saturday morning. Especially important is the fact that these devices need to respond quickly to touch as touch is really the only thing that you’re encouraged to do with them. The Omnia has a nice haptic feedback feature that I’ve already mentioned that lets you ‘feel’ when some touches are recorded, which is nice if the screen doesn’t draw quickly to let you know that you’re changing. But the Touch Pro will not be outdone – its screen draws in a side-by-side comparison were faster about 80% of the time for me. I know others out there have been critical of the Touch Pro and Touch Diamond’s graphics performance, but at least for the devices I’m using, it seemed to draw quicker. Finally, the last test is entering text. Samsung gives a nice finger-keyboard SIP they custom designed, as does the Touch Pro. I swapped Samsung’s out for a copy of SPB Keyboard 3.0 and was not disappointed. But as it comes stock, I do have to admit that the Omnia does a bit better keying in data, of course the Touch Pro has a real keyboard that can prevent finger-tap-keying in the first place. It’s a touch decision, but in the end I’ll have to go with the one that vibrates.

ADVANTAGE: Omnia

Windows Mobile Customization

Samsung certainly has made a bold statement with their widget bar, and the Touch Pro’s TouchFlo interface doesn’t much resemble the home screen we all known and love (loathe) either. If you’re after information, and a quick way to find it, you’ll like TouchFlo much better than the widget bar, or even Samsung’s alternate interface (See Figures 2 & 3). TouchFlo, however, can be a bit sluggish until you learn the tricks (e.g. that you can hold down your finger on each icon at the bottom and rapidly scroll to the other icons). In the useful category, I’m going to have to give HTC Props, but in the “cool” category, the widget bar does have a more impressive show to put on. Which wins out in the end?

ADVANTAGE: Touch Pro

Daily Use

I recently took a trip to Chicago for a conference and brought both the Touch Pro and the Omnia along with me. Over four days I used the Touch Pro for 2 and the Omnia for the other 2. Interestingly enough, I found that while the Touch Pro could be excellent to browse quick e-mails (e.g. by using the e-mail and text tabs in TouchFlo), it had some strange quirks. The version of Google Maps I’d loaded on it took forever to get a GPS lock, even with a fresh “hint” file download. Google Maps also had the strange habit of going zombie on me. It would minimize but refuse to re-open, even if I stopped it in memory and tried to open it again. Only a soft-reset would help, causing some rather embarrassing moments while trying to navigate my way around another city (But on another note, Thank goodness for Google’s new public transit routing in major US cities!). The Touch Pro, aside from its zombieness did do an admirable job and does have a beautiful VGA screen that puts Samsung’s WQVGA to shame. It is my go-to device when I know I’ll need to enter a lot of text. The Omnia, however, never zombied up on me, got quick GPS locks, was adequate to read my e-mail, and has remained my daily driver ever since the trip.

ADVANTAGE: Omnia

Subjective Value

Subjectively, I like both of these devices (after all, I bought both…). But the Omnia seems to have a certain sexiness that the boxiness and thickness of the Touch Pro lack. Now I know that the Touch Pro needs to be a bit more bloated since it has a keyboard, but why couldn’t it include some of the “sexy” features like a 5mp camera, or better use of the accelerometer like the Omnia does out of the box? But like I mentioned before, if I plan on doing a lot of work using text input, the built-in keyboard will always win over the graphical based one. So My recommendation: if you do a lot of text, grab a Touch pro. If you don’t, or you just really love finger tapping out letters, go with an Omnia.

ADVANTAGE: Draw

Conclusion

After using the Omnia for about a month, I can actually say something I’ve been wishing were true for awhile: this is a device that makes me excited to use Windows Mobile again! Samsung has done a good job on their first attempt to seriously tweak the OS, and may have even outdone modifying kingpin HTC in some areas. I didn’t even mention the fact that the Omnia has at least 8 GB of on-board storage to play with, and there are many other nuances that make the Omnia very attractive. The Omnia is my new daily driver, and I’m eager to see what the next generation hardware/software combo from Samsung will be.

Jon Westfall is a Microsoft MVP, frequent contributor to the Thoughts Media family of sites, avid City of Hero player, and most importantly a person adrift in the sea of a doctoral dissertation, looking for an island on which to rest. Track his journey and learn more than you really want to know at JonWestfall.Com

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Vaja’s ivolution Case Snuggles Samsung Omnia

http://www.vajacases.com/home/home_…i&c=7&it=10&s=1

A few weeks ago, I posted news that Vaja cases, the South American based company known for their rather elegant cases, had released an ivolution case for the Samsung Omnia. Shortly after posting the news, Vaja was kind enough to offer to send me the ivolution case so I could take a look at it myself and decide how it well it accompanied the Omnia. I’ve never owned a Vaja case before, so with the case came much anticipation about the quality and design, and today I’m pleased to share my experiences using the case!

The first thing you surely notice about a Vaja case is the packaging. The packaging that the case came with was nicer than some of the boxes my Pocket PCs have come in (looking straight at you AT&T…). The small box slides open letting you easily take the case out, and keep the box for future use. A small thing, but I’m always grateful when i don’t have to destroy packaging just to get something out.

I would have taken more photos of the case I received, however in this case I’ll point you to Vaja’s site as the case I have is literally the exact same case used for the PR shots (The color is spot on to the shots, no strange lighting distorting the true teal seen above). Getting my Omnia into the case was a real snap – I simply placed it into the back at an angle, and shifted it up until the two grips held it firmly in. The gripping pieces are nicely finished and don’t damage the device with even the smallest marking or scratching. The case then folds up and the grip seen in the lower right of the picture above secures it shut.

The case adds very little bulk to the device, always something nice. It can’t be attached to any sort of clip for a belt (that was SO 2003…), and without any sort of nub it looks plain and elegant. The biggest reason I have never been a ‘case’ guy is simply because I can’t stand a bulky case on the device when the device spends the majority of the time in my pants pocket. This case doesn’t bulk up, and still allows the device to slide in and out of my pocket without trouble.

Visually the case is very nice, however functionally I do have two small issues. First, the grip that holds the front of the case to the phone can be a bit hard to open once it’s been shut up. It takes a bit more force than I’d like (at times making me worry about opening it and having the phone pop out), however I suppose that’s needed to keep the phone secure. The second issue is using the case while charging. The charging port is not covered by the case, however to open the port cover, one must use their fingernail to slide along the bottom of the cover and pop it open. When the case is on the phone, my finger is simply too large to get in there and have enough leverage to pop the cover open. The result is that I must remove the device from the case to open the charging port cover, then can place the device back in, plug in the charging cable, and be done. In the morning I can easily close the port cover without removing the device. Takes but a minute to pull it out to open that port, yet it is still somewhat distracting.

Like all Vaja cases, the ivolution comes in a variety of colors and designs. The starting price, before customization is around $75, however if you’re looking for a nice sleek case that appears durable and elegant all at the same time, the price may be worth it. After all, the device you’re housing wasn’t exactly cheap! Speaking of that device, someone should really write up a whole review on it… perhaps having it up on the web by the end of the week… !

Jon Westfall is a contributing editor for Pocket PC Thoughts, as well as a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile. Currently he is finishing his doctorate in cognitive psychology, and experiencing the usual holiday stresses! Find out more about him, his life, his cat, his meaningless thoughts, at JonWestfall.Com

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TinyUrl Oddities

OK, so I’m not the most normal person in the world, but today while surfing around I think I found some people who are weirder than I.

You see there’s this service called TinyURL.com that will take insanely long URL addresses and create shortcut URLs that are easily transmitted. They also allow you to ‘pick’ your tinyURL shortcut (as long as it’s available), which results in the oddities I’ve found below. Admittedly, some of the words I tried are a bit adolescent in their use – but what others have linked them to is interesting, funny, and bizarre. Note: I did not make any of these up (Although I do have http://tinyurl.com/getjon  set up to go to my contact page (I saved a whole 5 letters!)

So here are the interesting TinyURL addresses I’ve found today, and what they link to:

So there you have it, many odd TinyUrls!

Microsoft and LG Sign Mobile Collaboration Pact

http://www.reuters.com/article/tech…E4A211720081103

“Microsoft Corp. and South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc on Monday said they had signed a preliminary agreement on strategic collaboration in mobile technology. “The agreement ensures continued strategic collaboration in R&D, marketing, applications, and services in the field of converged mobile devices,” LG said in a statement.”


flickr: Orin Optiglot

So Koo was like “Hey Steve, Lets Collaborate” and Steve was like “OK”. Seriously, it’s never bad to see agreements like this, as they hopefully mean more market saturation for Windows Mobile and, in turn, cooler devices for us. But really, when was the last time you saw something directly come of these agreements? Too bad the announcement is public but the results rarely traced back to it.


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Scott Jordan Signature System: How Geek Can Meet Chic

http://scottevest.com/v3_store/Q5_Systems.shtml

Product Category: Clothing
Manufacturer: SCOTTEVEST
Where to Buy: SeV Store
Price: $340 USD ($250 for Quantum Jacket; $140 for Fleece 5.0)
System Requirements: Body ranging from XS to XXXL Sizes
Specifications: 52 pockets, cable management through channels / pocket passthroughs, removable hood (Quantum Jacket), removable sleeves (Fleece 5.0), various specially designed features such as key holders, bottle holders, and pockets accessible from the interior or exterior.

Pros:

  • Be an unabashed geek without having to look like a nerd;
  • Attention to detail and usability;
  • Eliminates the need for a separate bag (some days).

Cons:

  • Price (for some), Sizes (for others);
  • Does not connect (as in previous SCOTTEVEST systems);
  • Lack of color options.

Summary:
The first SCOTTEVEST product I ever purchased was the 4.0 Tactical system, the closest thing to a predecessor to the Scott Jordan Signature Series. I was blown away and since then have reviewed many other SeV products. The direction foreshadowed by last year’s “Evolution” jacket has now come to pass with the release of the Fleece 5.0 and Quantum Jackets (together they make up the series). But with any new thing, old favorite features can be lost or changed – and new features added can somewhat make you forget about the old. How does this system stack up to its past, and pave the way to the future? Read on!

What’s New
The Signature Series has many new features as well as SCOTTEVEST classic options. The most apparent new feature is the change in fabrics in the jacket. The Tactical 4.0 jacket was, well, tactical – it felt like something I’d wear if I was a secret service agent or SWAT officer. The material was a bit coarse, with a nylon base.


Figure 1: SCOTTEVEST branding in the velcro section used to tighten the sleeves around the wrist. Notice the material has a grain, yet feels smooth.

The new material used in the Quantum jacket is very similar to shell of the Evolution jacket. While the material has a grain to it, it feels very soft to the touch, likely due to the Teflon fabric protector used. In the rain, the jacket does not soak up water but rather promotes beading and flowing of the water off – keeping the occupant drier than the alternative.

The Fleece 5.0 also gets a subtle change in fabric. On the inside the fabric mesh is more accented, allowing you to easily see where pockets lie and where your gear is going. On the outside, the material feels a bit more plush and soft compared to the 4.0 fleece. At least it did to me, my wife insists that it’s closer to the 4.0. In any event, we both agree it’s nice and cozy.


Figure 2: Exterior of the 5.0 fleece.

Another new feature to the 5.0 fleece and Quantum jacket is the introduction of Clear Touch fabric. Clear Touch is designed to replace those awful hard clear pieces that clothing manufacturers sometimes place on their products to let you “see” what’s inside a pocket. The plastic is always rigid, and feels like, well, hard plastic! Clear Touch pockets on both the Quantum and Fleece are clear, but feel like fabric. Or at least best approximation of fabric that plastic can get to.


Figure 3: A Clear Touch pocket in the Fleece 5.0. Both jackets feature two Clear Touch pockets. Notice the red piping also present on the interior.

Clear Touch is a winner when it comes to controlling a touch sensitive device while it is safely stowed. Lastly, a very pronounced difference in both jackets is the red piping around the interior pockets, similar to what was done on the Evolution jacket. It sounds really strange, but I was always able to ‘lose’ pockets in my Tactical jacket. Trying to remember where they opened or where they hung so I could see if I had something in them. With the red piping, it’s easier to find the pockets, and the overall pocket design has been streamlined substantially.

What’s Gone
SCOTTEVEST has been careful not to call this the direct update to the 4.0 line because some of the 4.0 series nuances are missing in the 5.0 Signature series. For example, on the jacket, a front right breast pocket with ID card window has been removed. The new version in the 5.0 line is a internal lower-left pouch specifically to hold your ID and provide quick access. Yet you can’t be wearing your ID here and have others see it, a potential problem for those of us who must wear visible ID.

Here are some other quick differences I’ve observed:

  • The hood on the jacket, while still removable, does not roll up and tuck away like previous versions.
  • The sleeves on the jacket are not removable. Scott Jordan told me this in a phone call earlier this year when I told him about the zippers breaking on my Tactical 4.0. Apparently this was a feature only of use to a few, and since it had issues, it was removed.
  • The jacket used to have two small pockets below the right and left “hand” pockets that weren’t very deep and sometimes hard to open. I used to keep my gloves in those pockets but alas they are now gone. They do allow the other pockets that you normally throw your hands into to be deeper.
  • There is only one key-chain holder on the jacket, in the front right pocket (unlike the tactical 4.0 that had a key chain holder in both the front right and front left – two different styles). This holder is the better of the two styles, with a retractable rubber chain.
  • At least one of the deep pockets on the jacket has been removed (on my Tactical I have a deep pocket on the inside of both sides, the pocket on the right side has been removed on the Quantum). Given the fact that I once used both deep pockets to carry (on one side) a large bag of potato chips, package of cookies, and on the other side two 2 liters of soda, I guess I’ll have to cut back during grocery trips!
  • The fleece shows only minor changes over the 4.0 version, such as the red piping and clearview pockets.

Overall while things have changed, the core features remain the same. I’m not sure which jacket I’ll end up using this winter more – the 5.0 or the 4.0 – so check in with me in the spring to see if the above changes proved to be dealbreakers.

Finally a note about sizing. Anyone who has met me in person knows I’m on the large side (some would even say Scary Large). The 4.0 series XXXLT fit me just fine, however with the removal of the tall sizes in the 5.0 line, the XXXL jacket is a bit snug (like the Evolution jacket that I reviewed last October). The 5.0 fleece fits just like the 4.0 did. While I could wear the 4.0 Fleece and Tactical Jacket at the same time, I doubt I’d be able to do that with the 5.0 series. Then again they were not meant to go together like their predecessor, so I doubt many will try to do this (e.g. the 5.0 fleece does not zip into the 5.0 jacket). If you’re a “big” man wondering how you may compare to me and if the XXXL will be big enough, feel free to drop me an e-mail with any questions if you’d like to be discrete and not post them here.

What’s Missing
Scott and his team have done a wonderful job with the Signature series, something I know Scott takes great pride in. I do have a few suggestions though, some easier to implement than others:

  • A padded compartment (possibly removable) for a sub-notebook or netbook. I travel with a 14 inch Lenovo Tablet (the x60s), and it fits nicely into both the deep pockets on the 4.0 and the 5.0. However a bit more protection would be nice.
  • Similar to the above suggestion, a removable accessory pouch that would connect up within the jacket. This way I can keep my AC adapter, mouse, and other computer accessories with the computer and completly get rid of the bag.
  • Pre-wired “Options”. While wiring up a SCOTTEVEST isn’t terribly difficult to do, it may interest some to have pre-wired options available straight from the factory. iPod owners could order the “iPod version” which would come wired with headphones, and an iPod charger connected to an external battery safely stowed (such as a Proporta or Pocket PC Techs extended battery). GPS enthusiasts could order a “GPS version”, etc… Of course these would cost extra, but may appeal to some who would love something tailored to their needs.
  • SCOTTEVEST is able to embroider logos onto corporate orders, but why not offer custom embroidery to individuals? I’d be very tempted to embroider my name discretely on my SeV fleece, if for no other reason than to wear it to parties where everyone’s already forgetting each other’s names!
  • I’m a lover of basic black (I own many, many black shirts, much to my wife’s dismay). However when it comes to jackets and fleeces, colors can be very nice – and the Signature series has only black as of this writing. Perhaps one or two other colors might be a nice addition.

Some of you may be wondering if the first two bullets above would really be prudent to implement. Surely you can’t carry all your gear (including a laptop) in a SCOTTEVEST, can you? Well let me share a story:

Last April I was in a hotel room in Seattle the first night of the MVP Summit when my roommate asked me a question. He’d seen my SCOTTEVEST in the closet and asked “Is that one of those technology vests?”. Being from Australia, he was aware of SCOTTEVEST but hadn’t seen one in person. I told him it was and gave him a brief tour of its pockets. In the process I realized that it was pointless for me to take my messenger bag with me to the Microsoft campus the next two days when I had a SCOTTEVEST with me. I quickly took stock of what I had to transport (Lenovo laptop, adapter, a few cords, a small camera, 2 or 3 Windows Mobile devices, proporta battery, and a few other things) and realized that I could put them all in the vest. I loaded up and over the next two days fellow MVPs were amazed as I walked into a conference room and within 2 minutes had “unloaded” my mobile workstation for the day! So yes, you can in some cases ditch a computer bag for a SCOTTEVEST.

Conclusion
As I write this, I sit in my office (a converted attached garage) wearing my 5.0 fleece. It’s keeping me nicely warm as I wait for a FedEx truck to bring me a few gadgets for my latest geek project. Tomorrow I’ll probably wear it as I walk to my office in Toledo – switching proverbial hats as I go from Geek to Doctoral Candidate in Psychology. While my work today is tinkering with VoIP codecs and tomorrow will be proofreading decision making problems, my SCOTTEVEST keeps me warm, connected, and fairly stylish. No matter how geeky you are, part or full time, you don’t have to look like Goofy with bulging pockets and bulky bags. After all, no self respecting geek could ever stand being called a Nerd!

Jon Westfall is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile devices, contributor to the Thoughts Media network of sites, and full time academic, currently finishing is PhD in Experimental Psychology. He studies decision making and interhemispheric interaction while teaching undergraduates a variety of things they didn’t know! Want to know more about him? Visit JonWestfall.Com


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Building Software Based Experiments: Techniques, Tools, and Tips

Welcome to Jon Westfall’s Software Based Experiment Resource site. This site will begin it’s life to serve as a supplement to my contribution to the SJDM Computing Symposium, and continue on as a resource to other social scientists that seek simple solutions to building software. (Whoa, Holy Alliteration Batman!) If you have any questions, feel free to contact me for more information.

SK3 : An example of using Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Internet Information Server, and Microsoft Frontpage extensions to build rich web-delivered data collection software. SK3 is a multi-stage escalation of commiment / Sunk Cost problem that presents the user various pieces of information and tracks what they look at, how long they look, and in what order they look before making a decision to continue to the next part or terminate the project. The problem used in SK3 is adapted from Schmidt & Calantone, “Escalation of commitment during new product development”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 30(2), 103-118

The source code provided here is licensed under the GPL. You are free to modify the work, however I do ask that you let me know of any modifications or revisions

SK3 is written in VB.NET, Visual Studio 2005

Pebl: The Psychology Experiment Based Language

LimeSurvey


Microsoft Dreamspark Program (Provides free versions of Microsoft development tools to undergraduate and graduate students at colleges or universities around the world)

Take The Internet With You When You Go!

About a year ago, I switched from Direcway Broadband Satellite internet to a Sprint EVDO Rev A card for my home internet service. The choice was easy – the Sprint card was cheaper and had better speeds overall than the satellite. For awhile, I put my broadband card into a spare computer and had it share the connection via Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) in Windows XP. Then I found a router online (The WRT54G3G-ST) that would let me pop the card right into my router and avoid the ICS hassle. The best part about using a broadband card for your internet service is that when you leave, you can simply take the internet with you when you go. However unless you want to install the broadband card drivers on every laptop in the family, there is no easy way to share (Unless you think setting up an adhoc network in Vista and sharing the internet – reliably – is easy!). My Solution? A cheap and easy rig that will let you pack “The Internet” with you when you go!

Step 1 – Parts

You’ll probably want the following (At least my rig is set up like this). My rig allows for the internet to be powered through AC or DC, depending on if you’re in a car or hotel room. Here are the parts:

  • Broadband card (Duh…)
  • Broadband Router (The WRT45G3G-ST in my case)
  • Short power strip (Optional, I suppose)
  • Some sort of Power Inverter (DC to AC). Mine is 400W, however you may be able to get away with less!
  • Box (Either an actual project box from somewhere like Radio Snack, or in my case, two Avon box lids)

 

Step 2 – Construction

You’ll probably want to plan out your rig before actually constructing it. I did mine visually, however for the sake of easy explaining, I’ll do up a small diagram (Click on it to see it a bit clearer!):

Next you’ll probably want to cut holes for vents, ports for cords, the hole for the antenna to stick out, and the power strip access. I used a simple swiss army knife as it cuts through cardboard quite nicely (What doesn’t…) and used masking tape to secure each item to the base of the box (I do want to disassemble this when I get home to put everything back where it normally goes). Feel free to improvise here – you may want to add more power ports, etc..

My design was specifically made to allow for AC or DC powering, and it works like this. When using AC, the power strip’s cord runs straight out the port to the right of it, and into a wall outlet. When on DC, it loops around the inverter (and plugs into the outlets at the bottom of the inverter. The Inverter’s cord then comes out the port to the right of the power strip, and into a car cigarette lighter. I’m planning on bringing an extension cord for the DC cord, as it is shorter than the power strip’s.

Step 3 – Complete & Accessorize

Here are some pictures of my completed rig. Note the snazzy title I gave mine (The Internet, complete edition, in color!). Accessorize to your heart’s content, just don’t block the vents!

(Edited to remove SSID – I’m paranoid…)

That’s all folks. Feel free to register and post your comments or suggestions!

Jon Westfall is a research psychologist and confirmed techno-geek. He’s a contributing editor for Pocket PC Thoughts, as well as a Microsoft MVP for Windows Mobile. This blog is where most of his longer articles reside, however jonwestfall.com also has other goodies and more than you want to know about him.