Finds of the Week – Oct 31, 2007

Here are my finds for this week:

.NET

Tools

  • I hope my hard drive doesn't crash in the next few days… because my initial Mozy backup is still running… about 3 weeks after I started it. At this rate it should be done in a few more days.

    Mozy Backup

  • Oracle SQL Developer is a very nice and full-featured Oracle query and browsing tool. Best of all: it's free.

    Oracle SQL Developer

Windows Mobile / Pocket PC

  • I wrote before about how Verizon Wireless may cut you off if you use up too much bandwidth per month. Good news: Verizon Wireless has just settled a N.Y. probe (news.com) into that practice.
  • I've been checking my Gmail account everyday every since the IMAP announcement on Oct 24. Today, it finally showed up!

    Gmail IMAP

  • Capture Screen Utility from Fann Software is a free screen capture program for Pocket PC and Windows Mobile devices. It's free, and it works.

    Fann Software Screen Capture Utility for Windows Mobile/Pocket PC

Miscellaneous

  • If you are anoyed about that pesky Windows Language Bar that keeps coming back after you tell it to go away, you are not alone. Here's how to get rid of it for good (How-To Geek Blogs).

Finds of the Week – 10/24/2007

.NET

  • Improve ODP.NET Performance (Mark A Williams, via Oracle Magazine) shows how Connection Pooling, Controlling Fetch Size, and Statement Caching can be used to maximize performance with the Oracle Data Provider for .NET.
  • Did you know that you can profile a selected Unit Test in Visual Studio Team System? Read more at Profiling a Unit Test (Noah Coad, via blogs.msdn.com).

Tools

  • Sysinternals (now part of Microsoft) has released a new version (v11.02) of their extremely useful Process Explorer utility. This is one of my must-have utility on any new system.
  • Process Explorer

  • FileZilla is an open source FTP utility for Windows. It's free and has all the features I use. What more can one ask for?
  • Filezilla

  • I signed up for Mozy two weeks ago. The price is right: $4.95 per month for peace of mind. However, it’s been 2 weeks and the initial backup is still only 50% complete!! I have a Verizon FIOS connection with 2000 Kbps upload speed and about 37GB of data to backup. I’ll post an update on how restores work whenever this thing finishes.
  • Mozy

Windows Mobile / Pocket PC

  • Google has just announced free IMAP for Gmail! Unfortunately, it's not available on my Gmail account yet. I am hoping that the IMAP with Windows Mobile Outlook is better than Gmail mobile (via Pocket IE or Opera Mobile).

Blogs

  • Scott Hanselman's Computer Zen is one of my favorite .NET related blogs. I don't know how he does it, but Scott often writes several detailed posts a day. Don't forget to check out his Tools List post.

Miscellaneous

  • Did you know that the best Wikipedia content is often from anonymous "good samaritans"? "Anonymous contributors with a single edit had the highest quality of any group." Read more here.

And Now, Something Different

Alexa.com's current list of 100 Top Sites in the United States (sorted by traffic) has a couple of interesting entries. In addition to the familiar Yahoo!, Google, and Myspace, there are two Vietnamese related sites: VnExpress at number 70, and Vietfun, at number 80. Besides these two sites, there are no other non-English or minority-centered web sites on the list that I could tell.

Possible explanations:

  • Alexa rankings are way off base.
  • Vietnamese Americans are using the net much more than any other minority groups (unlikely). If this is true, there is an untapped market here.

Anyone else has an explanation?

alexa-rankings-usa-1

alexa-rankings-usa-1

My New & Improved Samsung i730 Windows Mobile Phone

A few days ago, my old and trusty Samsung SCH-i730 Windows Mobile phone decided to bite the dust. One moment, I pulled it out of my pocket to look at the time and it was dead… just like that. No sound. No display. It was an eerie sight. I tried a soft reset, changed battery, hard reset, nothing.

Luckily, since I had purchased insurance for the phone (the only time I purchased insurance for an electronic gadget), I called Verizon. Two days later, I now have a brand new i730.

Samsung SCH-i730 box

Normally, this would be a none-event. However, something interesting happened: the replacement phone works much better than the one I used to have. Read about the problems I had with the old phone here. On the new phone, everything runs noticeably faster. There is no more unexplained slowness. Audio during phone calls now works as expected with no cut outs.

New Samsung SCH-i730 Windows Mobile Phone

I have two theories on why:

  • I had upgraded my old phone to Windows Mobile 2005 and that version of the Windows Mobile OS was causing problems on the phone
  • I had a defective phone

I will never know for sure the real cause, since the old phone is no more.

Samsung i730 owners out there, if your phone doesn’t seem to work quite right and have the problems described here, either try to downgrade to Windows Mobilde 2003, or if you have not upgraded to WM2005, you just may have a defective device.

Windows Mobile Device Center

In Windows Vista, Windows Mobile Device Center replaces ActiveSync. I just found out today when I tried to set up a bluetooth link between my home PC and Samsung i730. The process to set up is easy enough. Just download the installer from Microsoft, run it, and follow on-screen instructions.

My initial impression is that WMDC looks a lot sleaker than ActiveSync:

Windows Mobile Device Center - Welcome Screen

WMDC’s beauty is only skin deep however. There appears to be no new major features. I was hoping that synchronization would work with Vista’s built-in Calendar and Contacts but no… that would make too much sense, would it? I hate to have to install Microsoft Office just to be able to look at a Calendar and a Contact list. I now only have Office at home on a Virtual PC that I fires up once in a long while when I do need Word or Excel.

Since I started using Plaxo, I can access my calendar and contacts from any Internet connected PC or mobile device so I don’t really need to have my calendar and contacts sync’ed to my home PC.

Oh, and guess what, it’s not possible to sync your music library from Windows Media Player 11 to your mobile device over bluetooth. Argg!

Google Maps on Your Windows Mobile Phone

Google has just made available Google Maps for Windows Mobile. Here’s the blurb on Google Maps Mobile Page:

Take the power of Google Maps with you on your mobile phone.

Real-time traffic — See where the congestion is, and estimate delays in over 30 major US metropolitan areas.

Detailed directions — Whether you plan to walk or drive, your route is displayed on the map itself, together with step-by-step directions.

Integrated search results — Local business locations and contact information appear all in one place, integrated on your map.

Easily movable maps — Interactive maps let you zoom in or out, and move in all directions so you can orient yourself visually.

Satellite imagery — Get a bird’s eye view of your desired location. (It’s like you’re there, we swear.

I tried the app on my Samsung i730 Windows Mobile phone and it worked great. Map data is retrieved from Google’s servers as needed just like regular Google Maps. Response time is slower than on a desktop but still very usable on my Verizon EDVO connection.

If you are a user of Google Maps then the screen below will look familiar to you:

Google Maps

Note the transparent buttons. Great idea.

Searching for local businesses is a snap. Click Search . Type in the name of the busines. Hit OK. Search matches are displayed on the map as pushpins:

Google Maps

There is also the Satellite View, but missing is the Hybrid View.

Google Maps

More info here.

Update on Verizon Wireless Samsung i730 Pocket PC Phone

i730I wrote earlier about problems I have been having with my Samsung i730 Smart Phone from Verizon Wireless. I have been trying to back it up but I have not figured out how to do it yet. In the previous versions of ActiveSync, there was a feature to backup your device from there. It seems that the backup feature is no longer a part of the latest version of ActiveSync (4.1.0). I tried to see if there is a utility on the device itself but I cannot find any. Apparently after I upgraded the thing to Windows Mobile 2005, the included backup utility Sprite Backup got wiped out.

So now it seems there is no way to backup my phone without buying a backup utility. Don’t you just love it.

I am sure I will get to backup the device some day so I can go ahead and get a replacement from Verizon but for now I seem to have fixed most of the problems myself by removing my 2GB Secured Digital card from the phone. I do remember reading somewhere that Samsung only recommends not using SD cards over 1GB in capacity. Argg! There goes my plan for using the i730 as a music player as well! Perhaps this is my excuse for getting a separate mp3 player :-).

Samsung i730 Problems

I got a Samsung i730 Windows Mobile phone several months ago from Verizon Wireless to replace both my iPAQ and cell phone. My personal experience with it has not been good. The device frequently freezes, requiring a soft reset. The audio on phone conversations are often intermittently cut.

I decided to call Verizon Wireless yesterday about it. The support person wanted to walk me through a hard reset but I was not able to back up the phone then so I’ll have to call back. He said if the problems continue after the hard reset then VW will send me a new phone. Perhaps a new phone will fix my issues. We shall see.

Update: I seem to have found a fix for the freezing issues.

Update 9/7/2007 – Links for Windows Mobile devices: