I don’t often paste things from senior Microsoft folks into my blog, but I’d like to quote some things from our managing director here in the UK, Gordon Frazer
February 9th marks Safer Internet Day, a vital drive to promote a safer internet for all users, especially young people.
For the second year in a row, Microsoft subsidiaries across Europe are organizing employee volunteering activities for Safer Internet Day 2010. Through local partnerships with NGOs, schools, customers and partners, around 650 Microsoft employees in 24 subsidiaries will train more than 50,000 people on online safety. Last year Microsoft UK educated 12,000 young people and 2000 parents in online safety
Through an accident of scheduling I’m going to be using one of the volunteering days Microsoft gives me today, but for a different cause. Volunteering days are one of the distinct pluses about working at Microsoft and its great to see colleagues supporting things like this. I’ve also maintained for a long time when a company is Microsoft’s size it brings some responsibilities with it, and the protection of children has been an area we have concentrated on since before I joined the company 10 years ago.
We are part of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) and Gordon’s mail also said This year as part of the “Click Clever Click Safe” campaign UKCCIS will be launching a new digital safety code for children– “Zip It, Block It, Flag It”. Over 100 Microsoft volunteers will be out in schools in the UK teaching young people and parents alike about child online safety and helping build public awareness for simple safety tips.
Our volunteering activities today mark our strong commitment to child online safety. Online safety is not only core to our business, as exemplified by particular features in Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) and our work in developing the Microsoft Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) which helps law enforcement officials collaborate and share information with other police services to manage child protection cases, but it is also an issue that our employees, many parents themselves, take very seriously. As a company we put a great deal of faith in our technology, however, we are also aware that the tools we provide have to be used responsibly.
Indeed. I said in something else I was writing that there is an old phrase describing user issues “PEBCAK Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard”, and technology – however good – is no substitute for user education. We have a page of advice which you might find obvious but could be helpful to share with friends and family that have children active online http://www.microsoft.com/uk/citizenship/safeandsecure/parentadvice/default.mspx
IE8 provides the best protection out there, and the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre (CEOP) have launched their own branded version of it which provides ease of reporting access for young people www.ceop.gov.uk/ie8, which again may be worth installing at home if you have children or passing on to Friends and Family who are running older versions of IE.
Arthur : “You mean you can see into my mind ?” Marvin: “Yes.” Arthur: “And … ?” Marvin: “It amazes me how you manage to live in anything that small”
Looking back down the recent posts you might notice that this is the 8th in a row about my new phone (so it’s obviously made something of an impression), this one brings the series to a close.
I’ve said already that I bought at 16GB memory card for the new phone which is a lot – I had 1GB before, so… what will I do with all that space? I’m not going to use it for video and 16GB is room for something like 250 hours of MP3s or 500 hours of WMAs: I own roughly 200 albums, so it’s a fair bet they’d fit. Photos – well maybe I’d keep a few hundred MB on the phone. In any event, I don’t want to fill the card completely. After a trip out with no card in the my camera I keep a SD-USB card adapter on my key-ring so I always have both a USB stick and a memory card : currently this uses my old micro-SD card in an full size SD adapter. If I need more than 1GB I can whip the card out of the phone, pop it in the adapter and keep shooting
However the phone has a mass storage device mode so I thought to myself why not copy the Windows installation files to it, and see if I can boot a Machine off it and install Windows from the phone ? That way one could avoid carrying a lot of setup disks. Here’s how I got on.
I’m getting on reasonably well with my new HTC Touch Pro2, and Windows Mobile 6.5 (a.k.a Windows Phone). There are places where it has adapted well to being operated as a touch device – chunky menus and big buttons are essential – the 480 pixel wide screen is as wide 3 of my fingers which puts about 20,000 pixels under my thumb –so big targets are good if you read my post about radio I was operating the device with gloves on On the other had there are some things which work better with a stylus. I still find myself occasionally caught in two minds whether to unholster the stylus or not. Some of the older applications (3rd party ones or things like solitaire, which doesn’t feel like it has changed in the decade since I first saw it on a pocket PC) need the stylus. [This post from Mary Jo suggests that may change: I don’t know if what upgrade(s) will come to this phone in the future] .
A case in point (pun intended) for apps that need the stylus is remote desktop , and I’ve had a couple of instances where the easiest way to get something from my home (Vista) PC was by remoting into it. Remote desktop maps storage through – just like it does on a fully fledged PC. I’ll grant that the Pocket keyboard and screen aren’t ideal for a fully fledged VDI solution – indeed before I tried it I thought remote desktop on a 3.6 inch 800x480 screen would fit Dr Johnson’s quote, “like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all." Still as you can see, as a way of doing a quick check on or file transfer it works. In the first window you can see me checking on media center (you can tell this is the old machine – I wrote Back here about "My channel Logos” for Windows 7, which has prettied this up for my laptop) and in the second to copy a file I needed without needing to install the Mobile bits on the home machine first.
The more I explore the features of the Touch-Pro 2 (and Windows Mobile 6.5 – or “Windows Phone” as the marketing people have it), the more I find to like.
Being a Sunday I found myself with other parents from the village standing beside a freezing soccer pitch cheering on our offspring (since mine was only on the pitch for half the time I spent most the time I was there just freezing). It’s at these kinds of times that two of the greatest comforts are Radio 4 and a cup of coffee.
When I first got the device I found it had an “RSS Hub” program – this credits Ilium software and appears to be their News Break in all but name. I’d set it up to download the podcast of From Our Own Correspondent , a programme I never seem to get to listen to when it is broadcast. The downloaded Mp3 just plays in Windows Media Player. After that… I hadn’t given the FM radio on the device a try; it needs headphones plugged in to provide an aerial : I use an adapter to connect standard ones – HTC provide “in-the-ear” ones which I never find comfortable – with them it works as well as any other pocket radio I’ve tried.
It does surprise me just how may radios there are in this device.
* Phone / Data (3G / HSDPA / Edge/GPRS) * Bluetooth * WiFi (802.11 b/g) * GPS * FM Radio
I might be showing my age, but I’m still comparing this device to my original iPAQ – that had a 950mAh battery (non-removable), no memory socket, no keyboard, no radios (although it did have Infra-Red), and a volume of 172cc. In its 118cc the Touch-Pro 2 packs in a 1500mAh battery, all those radios, a Micro-SD socket, two cameras and a Qwerty keyboard. I’m genuinely stumped how they the electronics in the tiny amount of space not occupied by screen, keyboard or battery.
I keep thinking back to the theft of my laptop last year. I’ve had maybe a dozen laptops over the years and I haven’t really the same bond with them that I have with, say, my cameras. Even so whichever laptop I happen to have at the time goes everywhere with me like some kind of comfort blanket. It might be a business machine, but I do personal stuff on it. There’s business payoff to that that, the fact I am on-line and signed into Exchange and Office Communications Server when I’m editing photos (for example) means that colleagues from the other side of the world can get hold of me at all kinds of odd hours, but it’s my choice of hours. Windows 7 is the first time that we have put Media Center into the Professional and Enterprise editions of the product, so now I have a machine which is both protected with Bitlocker (good for IT) and when I’m travelling I can take the USB TV receiver or programmes I’ve recorded on the Media Center at home.
With the new phone I thought I’d try taking a TV recording I’d made under Windows 7 and moving it over from the Sync panel in Windows Media player. This works, but with the downside that the video is resized down below the resolution of the screen and I went off round the following loop.
* Expansys can supply me with a Video cable for the phone * I now have a 16GB memory card in the phone. [This was a special offer from Expansys, £30.47 including taxes shipping etc –my memory of prices gone by makes this seem so cheap. How much cheaper will memory be in a year or two.] * If I convert my TV recordings to 480p resolution WMV I can then play these from the phone to a TV or whatever
Then I came to a stop because:
(a) The 480p / 30 Frames per second video that came out of Movie maker was too much for the phone (it might be speed of reading from the card or CPU/Graphics chip might not be up to the job, it might work better with a different codec) (b) I’m probably going to have to power the phone because this will chomp through the battery at quite a speed. Where will the power supply be ? In the bag with my laptop, along with the video cable. – or more likely if I’m travelling I will charge the phone from the laptop.
In short the phone is a nice music player but it is best suited to playing low-res video. If I’m anywhere that I can use a big screen I’ll have my laptop. Since Windows 7 gives me media centre why would I waste time with the other stuff ?
Just on music front, I’m expecting to have a combined USB / Jack plug connection box in my car soon, it can play MP3 files via USB or anything the phone can output (via another connection adapter) to a jack plug. I have put voice command 1.6 on the phone so I can control Windows Media player by tapping my bluetooth earpiece and saying “Play artist/Album/whatever” – which is always a fun trick when the phone is in one room and you are in another. In the days when 512MB was a big storage card it made a lot of sense to use WMA files as used less space than Mp3 for the same quality. But depending how well the MP3 side of the adapter integrates with the existing stereo controls I want to use the phone’s ability to go into “Mass storage class” mode and act like a USB stick, which which will mean transcoding (or re-ripping) music to play in the car. I’ll be spending enough time doing that to not want to bother doing the same for video. Heck, I still have a decent pile of vinyl albums I keep saying I will digitize and haven’t got round to.
OK cards on the table. I’m prejudiced. I don’t pretend to be anything else, and I try to open about my biases - flaunt them even. And Like most prejudiced people I can explain the logical roots that my prejudices spring from.
When it comes to browsers I think IE is pretty good .Actually let me qualify that: I thought IE 7 was when we got back to being pretty good and IE8 ups our game. Yes I know some organizations are stuck on the IE6 – I think being unable to move to current technology is a sign of badly run organization, so excuses for being stuck on 6 always sound lame to my ears. Usually it comes down to “We made a bad choice of something years ago and now we we can’t upgrade anything”. The investment to put this right which then makes people more productive, and reduces support costs etc is always a good one. When XP was still a current OS (early 2006) IE6 was looking old and tired and I tried Firefox and liked it. These days IE does what I want, so I haven’t felt the need to use the recent versions of Firefox, but to me it still embodies what is good in open source software development. I don’t hear its advocates talking open source ideology, and it strikes me that they want it to succeed on merit – the only way a competitor gets my respect. I can’t feel the same respect for Opera, since it was their complaint to the EU which nearly caused us to ship Windows 7 to Europe with no browser at all. Opera has a market share miles behind Firefox, (and well behind Chrome and Safari). If IE were to vanish it would seem a fair assumption that 3/4 of the total market would go to Firefox. Prejudiced against Opera ? Guilty as charged m’lud.
So… It came a bit of disappointment to find that my new Windows Mobile device comes with Opera installed. Oh the irony: we can’t tell HTC and/or Orange what browser(s) should be on the device , even in our position as customer. On the first day I had the device, I hooked the device up to the corporate wireless (Windows Mobile Device Center handles getting the certificate that is needed) and configured the proxy for work networks. I pointed internet explorer at Www.getCoMo.com and downloaded Communicator Mobile which is working very nicely. Next I wanted to find some IP utilities to check what the network was doing. Sadly the beautiful photos on Bing’s home page are wasted on me - I don’t go to search pages (and my home page is set to blank) – I use the browser’s search box. Except Pocket IE doesn’t have one: however there is a live search icon in the Programs folder but when I used that the result was an error in Opera. It seems Opera can’t connect through a proxy: it certainly doesn’t respect the global proxy setting which IE and Communicator used (it didn’t pick up my favourites either), and if there is somewhere to set, I can’t find it – it’s certainly not under settings.
This produced an outburst which must have startled anyone who heard it. “Congenitally stupid” was one of the more repeatable phrases and I’ll draw a veil over the rest. Seriously. This phone is an evolved pocket PC, and I beta trialled the 802.1x drivers for the wireless LAN card which went in a jacket with my iPAQ 3600 series when Microsoft first started to use wireless LANs in 2001, and could use a proxy. It’s such a basic function I couldn’t believe it was missing. IE at least will me set it as the default browser, so any attempt to jump to a URL at least goes there now. But, can I re-assign the short cut key on they keyboard to it ? That is beyond me. I can remove IE from a PC supplied with it (and presumably if the supplier replaces IE with something else , I can remove that, and go to whatever I want) but there isn’t the same freedom of choice when you move away from the PC. [Unless there are hacks which the average phone user can’t find]