Thursday, August 31, 2006

Online Ads Aren't All Bad

So, after spending some more time with my "Two birds" killer, I realized I had made an incorrect observation about it's capabilities, or, rather, Windows Mobile 5's capabilities. Whereas I thought I had set up true Outlook synchronization with my MDA, I had really only set up email pop access through the device. It turns out that, with the most recent iteration of Windows Mobile and ActiveSync, Microsoft had disabled wirelss syncing between PCs and mobile devices.

This was not good for obvious reasons. After much "research" on the subject, the only answer I could some up with was to beg my IT department to move to a hosted Exchange service. You see, Microsoft didn't totally kill wireless sync, they just restricted it to Exchange-based networks. Granted, that accounts for a large majority of people who might use a device like the MDA, but it in no wise helped me.

As I was using Google to launch one of my many searches on the subject, an ad on the results page caught my eye. It said something to the effect of "wireless sync for mobile without Exchange". Curious, I clicked on the ad, as I am not want to do very often. I sure am glad I clicked on this one.

The company being advertised was Emoze. Sure enough, they provide a plug-in for Outlook, with support for Lotus Notes and Mozilla Thunderbird promised, which provides "push" sync services with mobile handhelds, such as my trusty MDA. The service is in beta, according to the emoze website. After a simple registration, I downloaded and installed the beta client on the laptop on which I run Outlook. In no time at all, I was up and running. Next, I had to install the client on my mobile. Another easy painless install later and I was up and running.

True to its word, Emoze delivers Blueberry-like "push" email to various handhelds. As soon as I receive an email in Outlook, I receive it on my MDA. Outlook calendar items, tasks and notes are instantly synchronized both ways. While this may be a beta product, I have yet to see anything wrong with it on my Windows XP SP2 / Outlook 2007 Beta combination. Everything works as advertised. This is an incredibly useful application and I'm sure many will find it useful. For the first time ever, I'm glad I saw a banner ad.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

New Toy

Upon my return from the city that never sleeps, I came to the realization that I had two major problems I needed to solve quickly. First, my trusty Motorola RAZR had serious battery issues, which resulted in less than five minutes of talk time and an hour of standby. I should note that I have absolutely nothing against the phone. It's the best I've ever owned. I believe it was simply in need of a new battery. Second, I had an access problem. Whilst in New York, I was without network access for 8 or more hours per day. Unfortunately, this is not an option in today's business environment. This also isn't an isolated issue. All of my clients are Fortune 500 companies. They all take security seriously. This means no wired or wireless access when visiting them. Being the "kill two birds with one stone" kind of a guy that I am, I set out to find a solution to my quasi-related problems.

I knew such a device existed that could give me "anywhere access" and more than 5 minutes of talk time. I also knew that I would almost assuredly stick with my current provider, T-Mobile. I surveyed the current offerings from T-Mobile and found I had a couple options. I could go with one of the ever popular Blackberry devices or, take a chance on a device I had previously not heard of; the T-Mobile MDA.

Two things instantly drew me to the MDA. First, the device can slide open to reveal the keyboard. I've never liked the Treo or Blackberry because of the keyboards. Yes, I do realize that there is a Blackberry that only has a numbered keypad but, then, how do you type messages with it? Sort of defeats the purpose in my mind. Second, the MDA runs Windows Mobile 5. Our salesforce uses Treos and I've seen their struggles with Outlook integration and synchronization. I know there are far fewer issues with Windows Mobile devices. So off to my local T-Mobile store I went. A few hours later, I was the proud owner of a T-Mobile MDA.

Having owned the phone for about a week now, I can say that it's quickly in its way to supplanting my beloved RAZR as the "best phone I've ever owned". It syncs up with Outlook just beautifully, has Bluetooth, IR and WiFi connectivity options, has great call quality and decent battery life. Combined with T-Mobile's Total Internet service, I have high-speed network access via their EDGE network almost anywhere I go. I can even share the connectivity with my laptop via Bluetooth. Using the qwerty keyboard, I can send emails quickly from anywhere. I have, indeed, killed both birds with one stone.

The phone is certainly not without its flaws, however. My biggest gripe is the lack of a numeric keypad. Of course, I can't really gripe about this. I knew this would be the case going in. It's a small price to pay for all of the features and benefits I've gained by moving to this device. All in all, I'm very pleased with my decision. I reccomend mobile business users who aren't sold on a Blackberry or Treo, for the same reasons I was, to give a Windows Mobile device like the MDA a try.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Big Apple

I was alerted Friday afternoon that I would be making a trip to New York city on Sunday. This is the first time I've been here during the summer months and, I must say, it's much nicer during August than it is January or February. The weather has been tolerable during the day and incredible during the evening, with temperatures around 70 degrees. I'm amazed that a city with infrastructure of such size can operate so efficiently. It's really quite amazing. People all over the place all of the time, yet they're always moving quickly and with a purpose. It really is incredible to experience.