Making the Most of Mobility When Traveling – Your Suggestions#
Post By Don Sorcinelli

For those who could not attend our last Windows Mobile User and Developer Group meeting last Wednesday, our featured presentation and discussion was entitled “Making the Most of Mobility When Traveling”. We covered a lot of ground on this topic, which was very all-inclusive and discussed items like the packing tips, hardware, software and accessory considerations and ways of staying connected. I have put the presentation up in PDF for download if you are interested in looking at it. Please keep in mind that the PDF was not intended to be the “Bible of Mobility Travel”, but instead facilitate discussion and interaction.

This leads me to the following thought – What do you think (and do) when it comes to leveraging mobile technologies for travel? Are there any favorite tools you use? Hardware? Power options? Software? Web sites? I would love to get a broader discussion going on the topic, and our Comments section (at the bottom of this post) is the perfect way to continue the discussion online.

Let’s hear it, folks! I am certain there are some great tips out there waiting to be popularized :-)

10/21/2008 12:24:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

HP Breaks the 24-hour Battery Life Barrier & How They do it.#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

OK I have been contemplating this press release I received a while ago and I am wondering what constitutes 24hrs of battery life of the HP laptop with the longest battery life of 24hrs and what the profiles are. Granted there has been a lot of tweaking going on by manufacturers to squeeze out extra battery life out of laptops, right?!. Don just got a new Toshiba Tablet PC at work  and was amazed that the laptop had a long battery life and performed well even at the Power Saver level. I too was amazed at how well the HDX Dragon did in battery and usage tests (granted it was only 3hrs, but it also had a 20 inch display and some pretty powerful hardware that goes to sleep as it should. So I don't disbelieve this claim by HP, but would like to see it for myself in a real world setting.

hp6930p

Today I got to talk to an HP Product manager on how they were able to achieve this.

HP had announced an unprecedented milestone in mobile computing: up to 24 hours of continuous notebook operation on a single battery charge. As measured by an industry-standard benchmark Mobilemark 2005 for Windows XP, the new HP EliteBook 6930p configured with an optional ultra-capacity battery delivered up to 24 hours of battery runtime.

When ordering your 6930p HP also offer’s the option of having the computer downgraded to Windows XP with an upgrade to Windows Vista Business disc included or it can ship with Windows Vista Business Edition. The timing for battery life running Windows Vista is of course different, not only because it is a more robust OS, there was a different testing software involved that puts the system under more real world scenarios using Mobilemark 2007. Using the same hardware configuration it was able to net 20 hours and 40 minutes using Vista with the modern testing software.

Surprisingly there was no tweaking in Windows Power Management. HP has a set of HP Optimized power settings that optimizes performance and battery life and this what was used and what they recommend.

During the tests both the wireless radios for Bluetooth, WiFi, (and if equipped with 3G radio card) were all off for best case scenario as a mobile user would use to eek out the longest battery life. So if you are using any of these, (which you aren’t supposed to do on any airline) your mileage will vary depending on usage.

The Elitebook 6930p used in the tests did have some hardware not yet available for the buying public, but will be soon. The greatest energy saver was the use of an HP Illumi-Lite LED Display (planned to be available October 2008) that is a $50 option that nets an energy savings of 4 hours additional runtime compared to traditional LCD displays as well as an 80GB X25-M Mainstream SATA Solid-State Drive from Intel, which nets another 4%.

hp6930p battery

So in order to achieve this 24 hour benchmark HP utilizes a 12 Cell Ultra Capacity Battery and customer download of the latest Intel graphics driver and HP BIOS. Notebook must also be configured with optional Intel 80 GB SSD drive, HP Illumi-Lite LED Display and requires Microsoft Windows® XP operating system. We were told that battery life will vary depending on the product model, configuration, loaded applications, features, and power management settings. The maximum capacity of the battery will decrease with time and usage. The Ultra Capacity Battery can also be charged with a separate AC adapter minimizing charging time before a long trip and it will also be compatible with other laptops in HPs lineup. The battery also has charge level LEDs to let you know when you have topped it off. It is also designed to give a comfortable working angle for the laptop when added to the bottom.

Designed and tested to last, HP batteries benefit from a combination of HP engineering and energy-efficient notebook components such as Intel solid-state hard drives (SSD) and mercury-free LED displays. For example, the highly efficient HP Illumi-Lite LED display boosts battery run time by up to 4 hours compared to traditional LCD displays, while the Intel X25-M and X18-M Mainstream SATA SSDs provides up to a 7 percent increase in battery life compared to traditional hard drives.

So in this day it is entirely possible to get 24 hours out of your laptop today with the right configuration of hardware and software and sets a pretty high benchmark.

Here are some excerpts from the press release you may find interesting:

“All-day computing has been the holy grail of notebook computing,” said Ted Clark, senior vice president and general manager, Notebook Global Business Unit, HP. “With the HP EliteBook 6930p, customers no longer have to worry about their notebook battery running out before their work day is over.”

Use an HP EliteBook 6930p continuously on the world’s longest scheduled commercial airline flight – linking Newark Liberty International Airport and Singapore Changi Airport – approximately 18 hours, 40 minutes.

Inspired by aircraft construction and designed for style-conscious mobile professionals, HP EliteBook notebooks feature the latest mobile technologies.

In October, customers will be able to purchase an HP EliteBook with the new Intel high-performance SSDs – HP is a launch customer for new Intel X25-M and X18-M Mainstream SATA SSDs.

In addition to helping achieve outstanding battery life, these new Intel SSDs provide greater durability and reliability as well as faster system responsiveness. Internal HP benchmarks show overall performance boosts of up to 57 percent on industry benchmarks, and data transfer rates almost six times faster than traditional hard disks.

“Intel architected its new line of high-performance solid-state drives specifically to bring a new level of performance and reliability to the computing platform and make significant impact to the way people use their PCs,” said Randy Wilhelm, vice president and general manager, NAND Products Group, Intel. “The HP milestone is an example of the impact of this new level of performance that specifically delivers on lower power consumption for longer battery life.”

The initial ENERGY STAR®-qualified HP EliteBook 6930p configuration starts at only 4.7 pounds (2.1 kilograms). It features a 14.1-inch diagonal widescreen display and is available with an optional, mercury-free Illumi-Lite LED display.

The HP EliteBook 6930p is built for the corporate road warrior as it features a shock-resistant hard drive, enhanced display panel and spill-resistant keyboard to help defend data against bumps, drops and spills. It was designed to meet the tough MIL-STD 810F military-standard tests(2) that measure levels of environmental reliability and operation at extreme temperatures, while withstanding vibration and high humidity.

The inner magnesium shell of the notebook’s HP DuraCase is equipped with a honeycomb pattern that is thermally bonded to anodized aluminum for a solid construction.

All HP notebooks are designed with the environment in mind, with energy-efficient features and select materials for easier recycling. For example, HP has set a goal to remove all mercury – a material commonly found in notebook screens – from its entire notebook line by the end of 2010.

10/21/2008 05:07:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

 

Zune 3.x & XNA Games#
Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

Since the release of the Zune update I have received quite a few emails asking why their games no longer work. As I stated in the update post it has to do with how the games were compiled with the XNA Game Studio CTP and not XNA Game Studio 3 Beta, which fully supports the new Zune 3.0 update! Yay!!!

xna 3 beta

To get your old games and applications to work all you have to do uninstall the CTP and install the new XNA Game Studio 3.0 Beta and edit a few lines of code:

  • Modify the .contentproj file to delete all instances of the OutputPath element. This element usually is within a PropertyGroup element that has Condition attributes. For example:

                      <PropertyGroup Condition=" '$(Configuration)|$(Platform)' == 'Debug|Xbox 360' ">
                        . . .
                        <OutputPath>bin\Xbox 360\Debug</OutputPath>
                      </PropertyGroup>
                      
  • Add the following as a child element in the same PropertyGroup that includes the XnaFrameworkVersion element:

    <OutputPath>bin\$(Platform)\$(Configuration)</OutputPath>

    The folks over at Zuneboards have a list of games that have already been “fixed” to work with 3.0.

    If you wish to do it yourself you can download the latest version of the XNA Beta from here and be sure read the READ ME file.

    Enjoy!

     zune capture

    There is a new snapshot feature too! A few people wrote in asking on how to do this so here it is. Screen captures are taken using the XNA Game Studio Device Center. It’s important to understand that screen captures can only be made when you start the game from your computer using Visual Studio. You cannot play a game stand alone (i.e. Running from the Games menu on Zune or from the Games Library on the Xbox 360. Here are the two ways to capture:

    • Starting the game with debugging (usually “F5” in Visual Studio of Visual C#)
    • Starting the game without debugging, and hence better performance (usually Ctrl+F5 in Visual Studio)

    Zune-1 Zune-2

    Once started and connected startup the XNA Game Studio Device Center, right-click on the device currently running the game and select “Take Screen Capture”. A PNG of your Zune’s Screen will then be placed in your Pictures folder, and it will be opened automatically for viewing.

    zune capture2

    Note: This will not work with packaged games like creators club game packages (*.ccgame files). This files are automatically installed on your Zune and don’t require to be built.

    Zune | Misc
    10/16/2008 17:03:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    REMINDER: User/Developer Group Meeting TOMORROW (Oct. 15, 2008)#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    Just a friendly reminder…

    It is time once again for our monthly Boston/New England Windows Mobile User & developer Group meeting. Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 15th starting at 6:30 PM at the Microsoft offices in Waltham. MA.

    Map picture

    The topic for this meeting – Making The Most of Mobility When Traveling
    Whether it is for business or pleasure, for a day or a month, travel always presents a unique challenge to us all. How to we stay in touch? How do we get to where we need to be? How do we do it all without doubling our carrying weight? While mobile technologies can help address these issues, knowing how to maximize those technologies is key.

    In this presentation, we will discuss and demonstrate both hardware and software that can help you to maximize your productivity and enjoyment when away from home.

    As always, will have lots of giveaways for raffle to attendees at the end of our meeting, so don’t miss out (last month, one lucky winner received a 1 year MSDN Premium subscription, thanks to Microsoft).

    10/14/2008 08:18:48 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Velocity Micro Announces the Release of the CineMagix FuzeBox#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Wow, the folks at Velocity Micro, an independent builder of custom, high performance computers, notebooks, and home theater systems announces the immediate release of an innovative new closed-box home media server solution, called the CineMagix FuzeBox Home Media Server.  Utilizing an innovative interface and Velocity Micro’s trademarked expert engineering, the FuzeBox manages, stores, and distributes pictures, music, and video throughout an entire home, making it the first and only whole home media experience on the market.

    fuzebox

    So the FuzeBox Media Server allows you to stream audio and video into zones including DVD and BluRay content that will be stored locally on a hard drive coming in 2009, hopefully this will be available with the ongoing courtcase  between the major Hollywood studios and Real Media’s RealDVD, which allowed for backing up of DVD’s to one’s hard drive. We hope they win like Kaleidescape did, paving the way for solutions like the CineMagix FuzeBox Home Media Server which looks to provide the same function as a Kaledescape a fraction of the price.

    “For years, consumers have been struggling to find a home theater solution that will simply and efficiently help them manage their digital lives,” said Randy Copeland, President and CEO of Velocity Micro. “The FuzeBox, with its simple interface and dynamic features, provides exactly what that consumer is looking for—a whole home media experience in one system.”

    Velocity Micro paired with Fuze Media Systems to create and develop the innovative interface and perfect the meticulous build of the FuzeBox. As a result, the FuzeBox is a home media server device so simple and stable, literally anyone can use and enjoy it.  Key features include:

    • Digital Cablecard support for watching and recording digital content without a cable box or DVR(2 in the Fuzebox and up to 4 can be installed in the Fuzebox Pro);
    • Multiple audio zones for playing different music selections in various zones throughout a home using either a wireless or wired network;
    • The capability to back up and distribute DVDs and Blu-Rays to various video zones
    • Whole home storage server capability for music, photos, video, and data;
    • Tremendous redundant storage capacity of up to two terabytes means space for over 300 movies and 8000 songs;
    • Multiple control options for remote management of all media server aspects including playing and controlling music and video from anywhere on the network;
    • Simple installation by end users or media professionals;
    • Locked graphical user interface that can't be broken by casual users.

    fuzebox2

    The CineMagix FuzeBox looks like a great Media Center PC with all the functions many users have been looking for quite a while. The system is fully configurable starting at $1,995, directly from Velocity Micro.  Visit VelocityMicro.com/FuzeBox for more details.

    10/09/2008 13:07:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    SlingCatcher Now Shipping and Available in Retail#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    One of the things I would like to do in my household is to stream the DVDs to my bedroom. Currently Microsoft Vista’s Media Center doesn’t support direct DVD streaming (there are ways to rip it to a hard drive and then stream it, but that breaks the DMCA). One solution I am currently using is an old laptop with video out hooked up to my television that streams the DVD output of my Media Center PC and DVD changers via SlingPlayer, however there is a loss of video quality in the process. We were also looking at getting another HD DVR cable box for the bedroom, but the SlingCatcher looks like a great solution that pays for itself.

    SlingCatcher-Angle

    The solution I have been waiting for a few years made its appearance at multiple CES shows called the SlingCatcher from SlingMedia which distributes video and audio without the need of a PC. It also includes software to allow you stream any video from a PC to a television if you have a Slingbox. Currently there isn’t any support for HD streaming support, but it is coming as well as streaming video from various online sources as well are mentioned in the press release:

    The SlingCatcher allows customers to watch online video from any popular site on the internet including network television sites like ABC.com, video content sites like Hulu.com and CollegeHumor.com, community video sites like YouTube.com, and even online movie rentals from popular services like Netflix, directly from a PC to the TV for the ultimate lean-back, social viewing experience…

    SlingCatcher comes with three built-in applications: SlingPlayer™ for TV, SlingProjector™ and My Media that combine to create a unified media platform capable of delivering content from disparate places for viewing on a single TV screen. This unique approach promises to give customers unprecedented control over their home television experience.

    SlingPlayer for TV delivers one of the most requested features from existing Slingbox customers: the ability to watch and control their living room TV on another TV in the home or on a TV in a remote location without using a PC or custom cabling.

    slingcatcher back

    The back of the SlingCatcher includes both standard definition and high definition outputs to connect to a TV - including HDMI, component video, S-Video and composite video, and analog and digital audio connectors. SlingCatcher also features a standard Ethernet jack to connect to the home network, either directly or via SlingLink powerline Ethernet adapters. The SlingCatcher even has two USB ports for connecting a thumb drive or external hard drive to play video directly through the SlingCatcher.


    SlingCatcher can be purchased in the U.S. from many leading online retailers for the MSRP of $299.99. like Buy.com, NewEgg.com and Amazon.com – who has it for $285.02. ;) The SlingCatcher is also on retail store shelves starting today, including national retailer Best Buy, as well as Fry’s Electronics, Microcenter, J&R and other regional retailers.

    News | Misc
    10/09/2008 08:44:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    User/Developer Group Meeting: Wednesday, October 15th#
    Post By Don Sorcinelli

    It is time once again for our monthly Boston/New England Windows Mobile User & developer Group meeting. Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday, October 15th starting at 6:30 PM at the Microsoft offices in Waltham. MA.

    Map picture

    The topic for this meeting – Making The Most of Mobility When Traveling
    Whether it is for business or pleasure, for a day or a month, travel always presents a unique challenge to us all. How to we stay in touch? How do we get to where we need to be? How do we do it all without doubling our carrying weight? While mobile technologies can help address these issues, knowing how to maximize those technologies is key.

    In this presentation, we will discuss and demonstrate both hardware and software that can help you to maximize your productivity and enjoyment when away from home.

    As always, will have lots of giveaways for raffle to attendees at the end of our meeting, so don’t miss out (last month, one lucky winner received a 1 year MSDN Premium subscription, thanks to Microsoft).

    10/09/2008 08:38:41 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

    Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine Announces 2008 Awards Winners#
    Post By Steve "fyiguy" Hughes

    Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine Annual Awards concluded a few weeks ago and the Winners, Finalists and Nominees are now available for viewing online.  Again I was a Judge this year and as always its a very intensive and exhaustive process testing many different titles in several categories making sure I used and evaluated each title thoroughly and fairly. Eighty members of the Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine Board of Experts judged 936 Windows Mobile products in 194 Pocket PC and Smartphone categories. Winners are also listed in the Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine 2009 Resource Guide first seen late November.

    sppc 2008 winners

    This year there for some reason took longer than some previous years to judge due to the high quality of nominees across both Windows Mobile platforms.  The nominees and winners are broken down into Pocket PC Apps — touchscreen devices, Pocket PC Games — touchscreen devices and Smartphone software– non-touchscreen devices

    I just want to give very special thanks to Hal Goldstein, Nate Adcock, and Noah Ouellette from Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine and Kerry Baker and the folks from Handango for working very hard on conducting these awards each year. It’s alot of work.  Also note that you get a 15% discount on all Windows Mobile software through their exclusive VIP site until Decmeber 31, 2008, when you purchase their Knowledge Bundle, which contains the 2009 Resource Guide (last issue) with Awards Winners & Finalists, GPS, How-tos and Accessories sections, 100-page How-to Guide, Back-Issues of Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine.

    10/02/2008 17:46:00 (Eastern Standard Time, UTC-05:00) #     |  Trackback

     

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