Archive for December, 2011

Slow sales of Windows Phone 7

I’m a firm believer of “A wise consumer is everyone’s best customer” so I read a lot about technology.  In fact, I spend the first hour or two of my working day reading about the latest advancements in technology and the latest gizmos that are available or soon to become available to the consumer.  Back in July of 2009 my cell phone stopped working but my wireless contract was not up for renewal until November of 2009 which incidentally was when the newly redesigned Windows Phone 7 was to become available to consumers.   If I was going to stay in business and hold out for the WP7, I need to buy an unlocked phone from Amazon to hold me over.

During those four months I had a lot of time to consider which features I had to have in my next new phone.  Having large fingers, I knew I had to have a slide out keyboard.  With that said, the obvious and only choice at that time was the LG C900.  The phone is a bit heavy but solid and the OS is very fluid and responsive.

Before ordering it, I was fully aware of the short falls it would have when the product hit the shelves but I was willing to ride the storm out until such features as “copy and paste” would become available.  All reports I read predicted that this key feature and a few more would be available to consumers no later than January 2010.  Since copy and paste was not a deal breaker for me and considering that when the iPhone and the Android made their debut they didn’t have this functionality either, I decide that I would take a leap of faith and buy it.

The copy and paste functionality that would arrive with the “NoDo” update slated for January of 2010, didn’t become available to the consumer until March.  This much-needed update also made it possible to send and receive Pop3 e-mails.

During the months of June and July I read about the latest update A.K.A. “Mango” that was to deliver over five hundred new features to the WP7.  Due to testing at AT&T, I did not receive that update until the third week of October.  As much as I felt that the first to buy the device should have been the first to receive the update, “Mango” turned out to be worth the wait.

Just recently I read an article by Jason Hiner of TechRepublic who feels that WP7 may be suffering from the “Windows” branding itself more than any other reason and there may be truth to that but I think there are other reasons that have led to the WP7 only achieving 2% of the smart phone market.

Product Knowledge (or lack thereof): Recently, I sat down with a customer of mine that was in the market for a new cell phone.  I showed him my WP7 and went over all that the device had to offer him.  Armed with all the details he needed to buy one for himself he went to the AT&T store and asked a salesperson to show him to the WP7 phones that they carried.  The salesperson suggested that he buy an Android or iPhone instead.  He said he tried asking questions about some of the features that the WP7 that we had discussed and the salesperson know nothing about the product.

Availability: AT&T only had three different flavors to choose from LG, HTC and Samsung where the Android had more flavors than you can shake a stick at.  To make matters worst, iPhone 4 had just arrived and you could buy the iPhone 3 for $100.00.

Advertising:  Microsoft came out with a clever commercial that proclaimed “It’s time for a phone to save us from our phones” which showed cell phone users constantly looking at their phones while life was passing them by.  This Christmas they came out with a new commercial that shows how Windows 7 and WP7 can quickly and easily interact with each other to deliver digital content in seconds.  There needs to be more advertising that focuses on the ease and usability of the WP7 if the product is going to gain any ground in the future.

Variety:  The first few WP7 products to hit the market were phones were built on Android’s second class hardware.  Nokia introduced the Lumia 710 & 800 model which claims to be the first true WP7 but they lack features like a qwerty keyboard and front facing camera that consumers look for in a phone even if they never use it.

My gut feeling is these are the many reasons that have contributed to the sluggish sales of the WP7.  Recently there has been a change of the guard in the WP7 division named Steve Sinofsky that may bring a breath of life into a well designed device.  It is rumored that Steve Sinofsky wants to take the  Windows Embedded Compact kernel in Windows Phone 7 and replace it with a stripped-down Windows 8 kernel widely known as MinWin.  How that decision will play out is yet to be seen but I for one have no choice but to hang in there at least until November 2012 when it’s time to renew my cell phone contract.

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InPrivate Browsing and On-Screen Keyboard

Another layer of security built into every Windows 7 operating system that is often overlooked by new and experienced users alike is Windows Virtual keyboard.

The on-screen keyboard allows you to enter data without touching a single key on your physical keyboard.  To access this feature, type “On-Screen Keyboard ” in the search box and select “Start On-Screen Keyboard” before you begin using InPrivate Browsing.

A few years ago the virtual keyboard would have been viewed as an inconvenience but now that everyone is texting these days, I believe it’s time has come.

With the virtual keyboard, I can do everything that I can do with a physical keyboard using the mouse to select the keys on the virtual keyboard.  This way, if there were a key logger installed on my computer that I didn’t know about, my financial security would not be compromised.

The complaint I typically hear from people who try this feature is “When I access my bank using InPrivate Browsing it always asks me for the answer to my security question and even after I click “This is a computer I use often – remember it” it doesn’t……why is that?”

That is because when you close the InPrivate Browsing window your history is not saved,  hence the “In Private” in InPrivate browsing.

Another complaint I typically hear from people who have tried InPrivate Browsing is “I access my accounts several times a day so InPrivate Browsing is just too inconvenient for me.”  Think about this for a moment “Which is more inconvenient, having to answer your security question every time you log in or trying to recover your life’s savings if your identity was stolen?”

Windows Remote Assistance (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this three part series, I will show you how to shout out for remote assistance by selecting “Use e-mail to send an invitation”.  As with “Save this invitation as a file”, help is just a few clicks away.  Click on the Start button and type Windows Remote Assistance in the search box.  You will be presented with two options…

  • Invite someone you trust to help you
  • Help someone who has invited you

Select “Invite someone you trust to help you ” and you will have three more options to choose from…

  • Save this invitation as a file
  • Use e-mail to send an invitation
  • Use Easy Connect

Select “Use e-mail to send an invitation” and an e-mail will be drafted that reads as follows….

Hi,

I need help with my computer. Would you please use Windows Remote Assistance
to connect to my computer so you can help me? After you connect, you can
view my screen and we can chat online.

To accept this invitation, double-click the file attached to this message.

Thanks.

Note: Do not accept this invitation unless you know and trust the person
who sent it.

As in mentioned in Part 1 of Windows Remote Assistance, for your safety this invitation is only valid for a limited time so I would advise you to call the person that will be assisting you to make the necessary arrangements in advance.

You will receive a message that confirms your invitation was received and they request permission to view your screen.  Once you grant them permission you can either chat via the Remote Assistance window or you can grant them permission to take control of your computer as if they were sitting in front of it.

IE9 and InPrivate Browsing

We’ve all heard the saying “The only way to be safe is not to connect to the internet at all”.  I think in this day and age, you would be hard pressed to find someone who owns a computer that doesn’t access the World Wide Web for one reason or another.  Whether we go online to check our email, look for the best deal on an item we’re interested in or check our balance online, all of us run the risk of identity fraud.

Would you know if you had a key logger installed on your computer?  What can you do to protect yourself when going online besides the usual, firewalls and WPA2 encryption.  There is one more layer of protection that most users overlook or just take for granted.

Today’s modern Web browsers come equipped with some sort of Private Browsing capability. Internet Explorer 9 comes equipped with a feature called InPrivate Browsing.  Microsoft describes InPrivate Browsing in this way…..

InPrivate Browsing enables you to surf the web without leaving a trail. This helps prevent anyone else who might be using your computer from seeing what sites you visited and what you looked at on the web. You can start InPrivate Browsing from the New Tab page or the Safety button.

When you start InPrivate Browsing, Internet Explorer opens a new browser window. The protection that InPrivate Browsing provides is in effect only during the time that you use that window. You can open as many tabs as you want in that window, and they will all be protected by InPrivate Browsing. However, if you open another browser window, that window will not be protected by InPrivate Browsing. To end your InPrivate Browsing session, close the browser window.

While you are surfing the web using InPrivate Browsing, Internet Explorer stores some information—such as cookies and temporary Internet files—so the webpages you visit will work correctly. However, at the end of your InPrivate Browsing session, this information is discarded. The following table describes which information InPrivate Browsing discards when you close the browser and how it is affected during your browsing session:

Information How it is affected by InPrivate Browsing
Cookies Kept in memory so pages work correctly, but cleared when you close the browser.
Temporary Internet Files Stored on disk so pages work correctly, but deleted when you close the browser.
Webpage history This information is not stored.
Form data and passwords This information is not stored.
Anti-phishing cache Temporary information is encrypted and stored so pages work correctly.
Address bar and search AutoComplete This information is not stored.
Automatic Crash Restore (ACR) ACR can restore a tab when it crashes in a session, but if the whole window crashes, data is deleted and the window cannot be restored.
Document Object Model (DOM) storage The DOM storage is a kind of “super cookie” web developers can use to retain information. Like regular cookies, they are not kept after the window is closed.

What InPrivate Browsing doesn’t do
InPrivate Browsing keeps other people who might be using your computer from seeing what you visited on the web, but it doesn’t prevent someone on your network—such as a network administrator or a hacker—from seeing where you went.
InPrivate Browsing does not necessarily provide you with anonymity on the Internet. That means that websites might be able to identify you through your web address, and anything you do or enter on a website can be recorded by that website.
Any favorites or feeds that you add while using InPrivate Browsing won’t be removed when you close your InPrivate Browsing session. Changes to Internet Explorer settings, such as adding a new home page, are also retained after you close your InPrivate Browsing session.

Using toolbars and extensions in InPrivate
InPrivate doesn’t clear any history or information about toolbars or browser extensions that is stored on your computer. To help protect your privacy, Internet Explorer disables all toolbars and extensions by default in an InPrivate Browsing window. If you would prefer, you can do the following:
In Internet Explorer, click Tools, and then click Manage Add-ons.
Click Toolbars and extensions, click the toolbar or extension you want to use, and then click Enable.
Click Close.

Windows Remote Assistance (Part 1)

In Part 1 of this three part series, I will show you how to shout out for remote assistance.  If you have Windows 7, help is just a few clicks away.  Click on the Start button and type Windows Remote Assistance in the search box.  You will be presented with two options…

  • Invite someone you trust to help you
  • Help someone who has invited you

Select “Invite someone you trust to help you ” and you will have three more options to choose from…

  • Save this invitation as a file
  • Use e-mail to send an invitation
  • Use Easy Connect

Select “Save this invitation as a file” and save it to your desktop.  After you saved the file a window will appear that contains a password.  For your safety this invitation is only valid for a limited time so I would advise you to call the person that will be assisting you to make the necessary arrangements in advance.

Next, open your default mail client and select the recipient and attach the invitation file before clicking the send button.  When the recipient receives the attachment they will ask you for the password that Windows Remote Assistance generated.

You will receive a message that confirms your invitation was received and they request permission to view your screen.  Once you grant them permission you can either chat via the Remote Assistance window or you can grant them permission to take control of your computer as if they were sitting in front of it.

Another thing worth mentioning, this feature is available with Windows XP and Windows Vista as well.  With Windows XP, the process of calling out for help is slightly different but if you are seeking help from a knowledgeable assistant they will be able to guide you through it.