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Find My Phone Saved My Butt

November 23, 2010 00:30 by ckincincy

So as I’ve blogged about previously I have a new Windows Phone.  Though, I did trade in my model from the HTC Surround to the LG Quantum.  I wanted the keyboard.

Today a feature that comes with every Windows Phone 7, saved my butt.  It started out with leaving a practice for my son’s 4th grade basketball team that I coach.  I put my phone and wallet in a bag that my assistant coach brought to return some items. I was thinking I’d keep the bag for a few days while I got the stuff home.  So the assistant walked out and started unloading the bag in my trunk and we went our own ways. 

Then I realized I didn’t have my phone.  I started back tracking my steps and I was worried that I put my phone on the top of my car before I started driving.  So I turned around and drove slowly, looking back the 2 blocks I drove.  No luck. 

Then I wondered if it was in my assistants bag and I rushed home because I know of the feature in the phone… I got home and logged into WindowsPhone.com and clicked the “Find my Phone” feature.  Within 30 seconds a map was displayed showing the phone was in my assistants driveway! 

I called him and told him what was up, and I went and got my phone… and my wallet Smile.  What was his reaction?  “Man, you’re like somebody from the future.”

It saved my butt!  Here is what it looks like showing the phone at my house:


A bug in WP7

November 13, 2010 21:54 by ckincincy

So it didn’t take me long, but I found my first bug in the Windows Phone 7 operating system.

It is a simple bug to reproduce.  It comes down to programming pauses and such into a contacts phone number.  Lets say you work at XYZ LLC.  Who’s number is 555-555-1212.  You program your coworker, Charlie’s number in as follows: 555-555-1212,2,222.  What this number will do is dial the main number pauses, hits “2” for entering an extension, pauses, and then enters the extension.

So now you have those two contacts.  Now somebody calls you from the office, which comes through as 555-555-1212.  You’d expect for it to display a call coming from XYZ, LLC.  However what happens is you are told the call comes from “Charlie” because he comes up first in the list. 

I’d hope the caller ID could be fixed to do an exact match search before it does the partial match search.

Almost a week later

November 13, 2010 21:43 by ckincincy

So here I am almost a week later with my HTC Surround.  Overall my impression of this phone is improving as time goes on.  It just works. 

In my prior post I mentioned that one of the features I liked was the ability to sync wirelessly.  Well, that didn’t pan out to well.  The software seemed to hang a bit.  So the Zune software needs some work.

I found my first bug in the software, and saw some areas for improvement. 

I’ll cover those in specific post because I don’t want it lost in the noise of one long blog post. 

However my overall thoughts are positive.  I love the speech recognition, it just works well.  The responsiveness of the phone is awesome.  The applications for the phone is still a bit weak, but its early.  It takes time to build out a great eco system.

The one thing I did notice is that WP7 apps cost money.  Not many free, high quality, applications out there.  A lot of, what appear to be OK quality for pay apps.  I think this will also change over time as the eco system builds up.  Right now you have a lot of early developers trying to make a few bucks off the early adapters.

I’ll follow up with three post in the near future, one more tonight.

1. The bug I found.
2. Improvements I’d like to see.
3. Applications I miss from my iPhone.

Check back soon.

First Impressions

November 9, 2010 00:01 by ckincincy

imageSo I finally fully representing my license plate, I AM A PC.  I am the proud owner of the HTC Surround, a Windows Phone 7 device.

Having spent the last two years on the iPhone 3G I got to know that device very well.  It wasn’t all bad, but there were things about Apple and its phone that drove me nuts.

I was eagerly waiting for the WP7 launch, and today was the day.

I looked at the two current devices available at the AT&T store.  The Surround and the Samsung Focus.  The Focus felt cheap in my hand.  Just seemed like it would break rather easily.  So I went with the much sturdier phone, the Surround.

After a night of use my first impression is… “Why’d they mimic the iOS 3.0?”  This phone has everything my iPhone had… last year.   No ability to copy and paste, and no global inbox.  Now the good thing is that both of those will be taken care of in updates, copy and paste has been confirmed… and I can only assume the other.  My next impression is that the phone is a lot like any Windows PC you buy, a lot of crap loaded on it.  Thankfully, it is very easy to remove all of the adware provided by AT&T.  Just hold down on it and click ‘uninstall.’  My third impression is that the contact management needs work.  The iPhone struggled here as well, but they gave me the ability to just use my Windows contacts and I was able to easily organize that. 

Finally, my last reaction is that I will grow to like this phone a lot.  It is a newer processor so it is certainly faster than my old iPhone.  One feature that I really like is the wireless sync.  No longer do I have to connect my phone to my PC to sync.  I just have to plug it into a power source and let it sit on my home network and it will sync all of my new songs, pictures, and podcast.  As the application choices grow this phone will be much better, it may even take care of the global inbox issue before an official fix is in place.  The UI is certainly different than the iPhone.  More sliding, less tapping. 

I’ll check back in in due time with a follow up, but that is how I feel after a night of use.

Hotmail or Yahoo, I need one feature from you!

September 9, 2010 23:53 by ckincincy

For those that know me, you know that I am no fan of Google.  I don't trust them in many ways.  I don't trust them with my personal information and I don't trust them to keep features I like or come to rely on.  They have a history of launching the next greatest thing, to only kill it within the first two years.

I've been able to stop using Google for most things. With one exception, email.  The reason being that Yahoo and Hotmail are each missing one feature.  The ability to use my own smtp server.

Both services will allow me to 'send mail as' other accounts, but it is really an email hack.  The actual from email would be the Yahoo or Hotmail address of the account.  The Reply to would then be changed to my personal email.  The problem with this is two fold.
1. Other web servers will sometime see this as spam.
2. Sometimes the "from" that the reciepient see's is, "From user@hotmail.com sent on behalf of user@example.com".  I don't want people to see my main service email. 

So, Hotmail and Yahoo... do me a favor and give me this one feature.  I'm ready to jump ship, I just need your help.

Is a college degree still a reasonable value?

September 7, 2010 23:39 by ckincincy

Alan Stevens posted that very question on Twitter today.

I may find myself out gunned on this one and start a bit of a flame war, but I’m going to tackle that very question.

Let me first lay it out there.  Alan Stevens and I are two very different kinds of people.  I’m a guy who just went to Quaker Steak and Lube and took out 22 defenseless chicken wings.  Alan is a vegetarian.   I’m about as right wing as a person can get.  Alan, not so much.  So we do look at life in a completely different kind of way.

I will start with my story, because my story is relevant to the discussion.  I graduated high school January 17th, 1997.  My son was born January 11th, 1997.  Going to college really wasn’t an option for me.  However I lucked out and found a factory job paying $10 an hour.  When working the over time I was working and after a few dollars in raises I was able to pull in a decent amount of money for a high school graduate. Then the shift of manufacturing jobs out of the United States started taking full effect thanks to NAFTA, which by the way was signed by Bill Clinton though the Republican party was the driving force of this agreement initially.  In 2000 I saw the writing on the wall and I left my first factory job, for my second (and last) factory job.  This job focused on projection screen tv’s.  With the advent of flat screen tv’s and outsourced labor to China, again the writing was on the wall and I took a very strategic move to a very small development shop owned by a friend.  At that point I also enrolled into the University of Cincinnati.  Here I was, a father to three children, a full time job, and going to school half to three quarter time.  The BEST decision I’ve ever made.  I’ve seen my salary almost triple since that moment.  So the boat load of student loan debt I did rack up is earned back each and every year in extra income. 

Could I have done it if I didn’t go to college?  I really don’t think so.  I think I’d be making good money right now, but not very good money. I even have a very distinct memory of a job interview that I had about 2 years into my college education.  I interviewed with the project manager who loved me.  Thought I was the perfect fit for the job.  Then his boss, the vice president of the company saw my resume.  Saw that I had no degree, 2 years of experience, but no degree.  He immediately dismissed me as a candidate.  That was the end of it. 

Alan stated on his Twitter feed the following to a similar argument: “Don’t let HR drones define what’s possible for you.  Look around. There are plenty of examples of success without a degree.”

I don’t disagree in principal on this issue.  I just whole heartedly disagree with the realities of this issue.  The fact is that there are many places that will not hire you if you don’t have that check box checked. 

Now I don’t think Alan is against higher education, and to be fair he said that a few times in the Twitter talk.  I just think the argument being made is flawed.

Do I think that most students going to college today are wasting their money?  Yep.  By far, most are.  We send people to college to just say they went to college and they come out with a business degree.  What in the world is a business degree? This reminds me of a good friend of mine who happens to have been the vice president of a very large company in the area.  He shared with me the one thing that put him on the right course in life to make the significant salary he was making.  His mom never spoke as if college was an option.  It was going to happen.  Then she made sure to tell her children that once they are done with college they better be something.  Something well defined.  A pharmacist, a lawyer, a doctor.  Something that is clearly defined as a skill.   This is now the same thing I am telling my children as they get closer and closer to college.  Go to school to be something.  Even if you go another route you can always fall back to that skill.  You look over to our IT cousins in India.  The children that are fortunate to go to school are raised to go to school for two things. 

1. Be a doctor.

2. Be an engineer.

Also alluded to in the Twitter talk was the driving force behind the problem.  Money.  Colleges do not care about the well being of the student by and large.  They care about keeping their numbers up and getting as much government and tuition funding as possible.  This is where the break down of the family comes into play.  I have four children.  I’m not sure one is wired to go to college. He may turn out to be my smartest child, but I’m prepared to push him toward a career path that doesn’t require as much intellectual understanding, but more of a working with his hands and back.  It is my responsibility as a parent to help my children make the right decision on where to go to pursue the right skill set.

Now the main reason I think college is worth it is clearly pointed out in the stats around college educated folks (taken from the BLS):



Look at those numbers, if that doesn’t tell a story then nothing does.  Even with the flaws that I readily admit are in the college system, the employment rate and the income level of college educated folks is nowhere in comparison to those that aren’t. 

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Yet Another URL Shortener

August 15, 2010 14:34 by ckincincy

So I got board on Friday and decided to create my own URL shortening service.  Went looking for a domain and found ocdp.us.  A spin off of this domain so I went and did a quick search on Google to make sure I didn’t spell something bad. Google wondered if I meant to type octopus:


So I am aware of the sound of the domain :-). 

I went looking for an open source solution that existed and found one that best met my desires. One built by jobping.com.  It was ASP.NET MVC based, so figured it was a good way to work on MVC while giving me what I wanted.

The pre-baked solution was missing a few things that I wanted.

1. The ability to have a custom short URL.

2. The ability to see a report of short URL’s.  Basically how many clicks have happened on that URL.

So I took the jobping.com solution and made my own.

You can see my solution in action two ways.

1. Click ocdp.us/a to basically come back to this page.  This was an auto generated url.

2. Click ocdp.us/lwlfb to go to Loving With Luggage’s site on Facebook.  This is a custom URL.

At some point in the future I’ll share the code to my site, but need to make sure the unit test are written just for code completeness.

Loving With Luggage

August 7, 2010 19:46 by ckincincy

As some may be aware, my wife and I are foster parents.  Have been for almost two years.  In our time here we’ve seen something that we don’t like.

Children in the system move from house to house using trash bags.

imageAt some level I do understand this in the beginning.  Children are often snatched out of a tough situation with little notice.  However, for the rest of the transitions this bothers me that everything is moved in trash bags.

We’ve seen it with 4 of the six children we’ve had in our care.  So my wife got an idea and then got some suggestions and the end result of that was “Loving With Luggage”.  This is an idea that is in its infancy and we have one consistent donation lined up with the Northern Kentucky Airport. 

If you could like us on Facebook I would appreciate it.  We’ll update further developments there.

Cat and Mouse with Comments

August 6, 2010 01:25 by ckincincy

So I have re-enabled comments on this site.  It is a cat and mouse game, but this time I implemented something custom to my DotNetBlogEngine site, so the default hacks that exist for DNBE sites won’t work on mine.

I simply require that a basic math problem be answered before the post goes on.  Will be interesting to see how this works.

ZagForm Killer – GreaseMonkey Script

June 2, 2010 00:28 by ckincincy

One of the websites I read often is the Cincinnati Enquirer.

At some point they implemented a form to collect visitor information:


If you read this, it says you won’t be shown this again… yet, I see it over and over and over again.  So I did what any self-respecting geek would do. Hacked around it.  The solution?  My first ever GreaseMonkey script.  Very simple in nature, if it finds the URL that is used for this form, it redirects me to the article. 

Took me 10 minutes to develop, and will save me from being bugged by it in the future.  I doubt this will be useful to anybody else, but if so… let me know.

ZagForm Killer 1.0