Select your Windows Phone 7 handset with Silverlight PivotViewer

Friday, 22 October 2010

Windows Phone 7 devices are now available in Australia. I dropped into a Telstra shop yesterday and spent a few minutes playing with their demo model. At some stage I'm hoping I'll be able to actually purchase one of these things for myself! (A definite step up from my super-basic C3050, who's primary reason for purchase was that it could at least play podcasts*).

Of course, the main reason I'd like a Windows Phone 7 is to play Nigel's Word Puzzle game, but there's also the whole "smartphone" thing of email/calendar/podcasts etc. If they can fix the "just show only the default calendar for a single email source" limitation (so that I can retrieve all our Google calendars for our family), then I reckon I'd consider getting Narelle one too, so that I could finally solve my calendar problem.

Anyway, so how to choose from the "vast array" (slight exaggeration!) of new handsets entering the market?

Why not try out a new Pivot Collection I've created that lets you sort and filter by your requirements – just go to http://pivot.lobsterpot.com.au/WP7/ and have fun!

image

Thanks to Rob for kindly hosting this on the LobsterPot Solutions site.

* – And I'm not even doing that right now as I've lost the earphones, and it has a silly non-standard plug so I haven't replaced them yet. Not that I'm saying the loss of earphones alone is justification for getting a new phone!

Writing a Media Center Application in Visual Studio 2010

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Rocky River, Kangaroo IslandMy ISP (Internode) provides a number of unmetered streaming radio stations for its customers. A while back I'd followed some instructions on how to set up shortcuts in Media Center to link to some of these stations. This worked pretty well, until the ISP reorganised their server and all of the shortcuts broke. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to write a simple Media Center application that could grab the current radio list from the published radio stream RSS feed, list those stations in Media Center and allow selecting a station and getting Media Center to start playing it.

  1. Download and install the Windows 7 Media Center SDK. This install some samples, the SDK help file and some templates (but only for Visual Studio 2008).
  2. Go to Charlie Owen's blog and download his Addendum.zip. Amongst other things, this contains both project and item templates suitable for Visual Studio 2010. Follow the instructions to copy the templates into your Visual Studio templates folder.
  3. Download and install the latest WiX 3.5 build (WiX 3.5 includes support for 2010)

Now you can start Visual Studio and you'll see a new project template in the C# language section. There's a few more things I needed to update to get everything working properly:

Then it's just a matter of getting up to speed with the intricacies of Media Center application writing!

The source code for the application (InternodeRadioMCE) is published on Google Code. It is very rough at the moment. As I get more familiar with the Media Center programming model I hope to improve it a bit!

And the photo? It's of Rocky River (courtesy of our recent holiday to Kangaroo Island) – and the closest thing I could think of to a stream (as in streaming radio!)

Rebuilding the home PC on a budget (part 2)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

So there I was, looking down the barrel of having to basically rebuild my home PC. It's been more than a month since the box stopped working, and after further research I came up with the following revised shopping list:

Component Model
CPU AM3 x4 640
RAM Kingston 4GB Kit(2Gx2) DDR3 1333
Motherboard GA-870A-UD3
CPU Fan Noctua NH-U9B-SE2
That motherboard recently gained an 'Editor's Choice' award from XBit Laboratories, which is nice.

However, Duncan commented on my previous post that maybe the hardware wasn't at fault. It was a good suggestion that I should really try and isolate what the cause of this problem is before just "throwing new hardware" at it (as he put it!).

So I scrounged around and found a spare old hard disk that I was able to plug in to the system and successfully installed a clean version of Windows 7. So far so good, but then I noticed something odd – Windows insisted that I just had a basic VGA adapter. Nevertheless I then installed the most recent NVidia driver (96.85) and rebooted. Eureka! It booted successfully.

Buoyed by this success, I then swapped back to the original boot disk and booted into "Safe Mode with Networking", located the display driver in the Device Manager and uninstalled the existing driver. I then rebooted Windows.

Rebooting worked ok, and I was now in VGA mode again. I then repeated the process of installing the NVidia driver and rebooted again... And it worked!

So we're now back working again, and I can leave my shopping list for another day Smile

Is it worth going naked?

Friday, 8 October 2010

Following on from yesterday's post I thought I'd run through the numbers to see what savings are possible with a change to a 'naked' Internode ADSL service and porting our home phone number to VoIP.

Current monthly expenses
Service Description Cost
Broadband Internode Easy-Broadband-Classic (50GB)* 47.45
Telephone HomeLine® Budget# 26.95
Total   74.40

* – 'grandfathered' plan no longer available to new customers. Price includes 5% discount.

# – HomeLine Budget plan activated before newer conditions were introduced which disallow non-BigPond ADSL providers, and also includes $6 to enable Caller Number Display.

There seems to be two possibilities – the "Easy" plan (which also counts uploads but tend to have larger overall quotas) or the "Extreme" (which don't count uploads). I've applied the 5% discount to the broadband plans.

Easy Naked monthly expenses
Service Description Cost
Broadband Internode Easy Naked Pure Broadband S :: 150 Gigabytes 56.95
Telephone Internode NodePhone2-Starter 5.00
Total   61.95

 

NakedExtreme monthly expenses
Service Description Cost
Broadband Internode NakedExtreme ADSL2+ Pure Broadband 60 Gigabytes 66.46
Telephone Internode NodePhone2-Starter 5.00
Total   71.46

So unless I've overlooked something, it looks like there's an opportunity to save up to $12/month.

One thing to be careful of – there does appear to be a risk if you choose the "Easy Naked" plan. Turns out that you could end up on either an Agile OR Optus DSLAM, and if you're not on an Agile DSLAM then I believe that NodePhone isn't an option. I'm waiting for clarification of this in the Whirlpool forums.

Internode introduced phone number porting

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Good news for some Internode customers – this week they've finally launched phone number porting, so that if you want to choose one of the "Naked" ADSL products, you can keep your phone number and have it linked to a VoIP service, whilst no longer having to pay separate line rental.

This is great, except for those of us already on an Agile DSLAM. Turns out that Telstra aren't being very cooperative in allowing people to move from LSS to ULLS (which is the position I believe I'm in).

The other problem I'd need to solve would be how to mix the NodePhone service that the phone number would be linked to with PennyTel – the VoIP provider I currently use. For our particular call usage pattern PennyTel has been a good choice. I'll do some further analysis but I suspect NodePhone's standard call rate of 18c per call won't work out as cheap as PennyTel's 1.6c/min (timed plan) or 8c per call (untimed plan). 

Update 10am

One option that may be worth considering is ordering a new naked ADSL service on an existing spare copper pair, and then using the Simple Phone Number Port service to transfer the phone number to NodePhone VoIP and cancel the old phone line and ADSL services. The downside is some additional costs up front, but the hope would be over time you'd come out ahead.