Robert’s Ramblings

Robert Alonso’s Thoughts on Technology and More…

Archive for June, 2009

June-26-09

Windows 7 Upgrade at Half Price

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Service, Software

Earlier today I wrote about my problems with the free upgrade to Internet Explorer 8. It is with a bit of caution that I am now writing about the Windows 7 upgrade process. Probably the only reason that I felt compelled to write about it is that beginning June 26, 2009 (today) you can preorder Windows 7 for half price through major on-line retailers. Two editions of the upgrade, Windows 7 Home Premium and Professional, are available. This discounted offer is available through July 11, 2009. Judging from the technical and marketing disaster that Vista has been, this may be a worthwhile upgrade. I doubt that even Microsoft can afford to screw up their cash cow twice.

If you want to order it from Amazon click below:

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June-26-09

Internet Explorer 8 Does Not Support WebDAV

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Opinions, Software

It is ironic that I wrote yesterday how Apple’s iPhone software upgrade added functionality that I had wanted for a long time. I have experienced the opposite with a Microsoft upgrade. I upgraded two computers that I work on regularly to Internet Explorer 8 and have found out that the new version of the browser does not support opening a web address as a folder. This is handy for people who have a Windows server configured to share files through WebDAV—a technology that Microsoft developed and has promoted for sharing files over the Internet. Even Linux servers now have code to support this and my iPhone allows transfers to and from it using the Air Sharing application which works by mimicking a WebDAV server. I used to connect to the iPhone by opening the address shown in the Air Sharing application screen using Internet Explorer 7. It was as simple as going to the File menu, selecting Open, entering the address and selecting the check box that said, “Open as Web Folder.”

To get this functionality now, in Vista you have to go to Start, Computer, select Map Network Drive and then click on the link that says: “Connect to a Web site that you can use to store your documents and pictures.” You are then taken to a wizard that walks you through a series of steps to connect to the WebDAV folder. This is not what I consider progress. Microsoft, how about a patch that fixes this downgrade to a real upgrade?

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June-25-09

iPhone 3.0 Notes

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Opinions, Software

One of the features that I always felt was missing from the iPhone was the ability to synchronize notes between Exchange/Outlook and the iPhone. I keep all kinds of small notes on my iPhone and separately on my Exchange Server through my Outlook client software. These notes are important and I find that I need them at times when the phone is handy, but not a computer. One example of this, is needing my frequent flyer number at an airport counter. I have this information in my Outlook notes, but not on the iPhone. That was the case until the new 3.0 release of the iPhone software.

New functionality in the iPhone 3.0 software eliminates this hassle, albeit not perfectly. It now synchronizes the notes application on the phone with notes on your Outlook client, but only when the phone is physically connected to the machine with the Outlook software. It does not synchronize over the air like it does with email and contacts. This is an unfortunate limitation, but one that I will live with. To me, this was one of the most pleasant surprises of the new 3.0 software.

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June-18-09

iPhone 3.0 Stocks Application

Posted by Robert Alonso under Hardware, Opinions, Software

I’ve upgraded my iPhone 3G to the new 3.0 version of the operating system and am very happy with the new improved software. I will write about the various improvements over a couple entries into this blog.

One improvement which is not getting a lot of attention is the built in Stocks application. This application allows you to track a portfolio of stocks. You simply look up the symbols and save it to the interface of the application. Figure 1 shows a sample portfolio with Ford Motors (F) highlighted. The upper part of the interface shows the stocks in your portfolio and their current prices (delayed 20 minutes.) You can press your finger on the colored area that shows the change in price and it will show you the percent change. This has always been the case, but the new software gives you an additional level of information. If you press a second time, you get the market capitalization of the stock.

Stocks Base Screen

Stocks News Screen Stocks Summary Screen
Fig1. Stocks Base Fig 2. Stocks News Fig 3. Stocks Summary

The bottom portion of the screen shows a graph of the selected stock’s progress. You can select various time periods by pressing on “1d,” for today, “1w” for a week and continue increasing the time period as necessary by pressing the appropriate time period button. The new software adds the ability to scroll the entire graph region with your finger to obtain news on the selected stock. Figure 2 shows news for Ford.

Another scroll  to the right will display a summary screen on the stock. The summary screen shows the opening price, high, low,  volume, highs and market capitalization of the company. This is a very handy addition since getting this information in the past  required going to Yahoo! Finance. Figure 3 shows the summary screen.

IMG_0083Perhaps the most interesting improvement is the new landscape mode of the application. If you flip your iPhone (or Touch) on its side, you will see an enhanced graph of the price of the stock over time. You can then press your finger down on the display and move it to the left  or right on the display to get the price at any given point in the graph. The image to the left shows the graph with a vertical line through it showing the price at that point. That vertical line represents where my finger was on the screen when the screen was captured. If you use two fingers and spread them in opposite directions, you can  get the change in price for any period of time. The image below and to the right shows a range with a drop in value of 3.13% for Ford’s stock. IMG_0084

You can see the other stocks in your portfolio and stock indexes, by moving your finger along the top of the graph (where the symbol and date is displayed) to the right or left and the graph will change to the next or previous stock or index in your portfolio.

The functionality that this little application offers is just incredible. Just about the only improvement that you could ask for is real-time quotes. If that happens, then the iPhone will become and indispensible tool for anyone trading stocks seriously. My congratulations go to the developers of this handy tool. Bravo!

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June-13-09

Digital TV Transition

Posted by Robert Alonso under Advice, Hardware, Opinions, Service

It is the end of an era; analog television broadcasts are now a thing of the past. As of this last Friday, the TV networks stopped broadcasting on the analog frequencies and are now only broadcasting in digital high definition on a different frequency. This has rendered millions of television sets useless. The deadline for this switch was delayed from February of this year to June 12th. It is now time to upgrade to a better set, pay for cable services (which will still support your television set through the cable input connector) or purchase a conversion box.

For the many who were probably caught unprepared for this, the FCC has established a hotline staffed by 4,000 operators to help you, You can call: 1-888-CALL-FCC. Alternatively, you can visit this government website: http://www.dtv.gov/

Does anyone remember analog cell phones, Betamax, VHS, LP record players, tape players, or heaven forbid, 8-Track players? If you do, you probably own a Sony Walkman tape player and need to upgrade to an iPod Touch. Get with it.

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