Tuesday, November 18, 2008

activesync via bluetooth

1 – Update to the latest windows mobile device center
2 – Follow these instructions to add and change the registry entries on the PC to COM5.
3 – Pair the devices
3 – On the phone, UNCHECK the [] Activesync capability the PC offers when the devices pair. Hit done, done, done.
4 – On the phone, in Activesync, select “connect via Bluetooth” and follow the prompts (add serial connection to PC).

This voodoo to make it work is insane but it does work and I can now sync outlook to my phone, yippee!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

mio c220 GPS

Our Garmin Nuvi 200 series GPS that we received as a gift is fatally flawed.  Last week in Boston while trying to use it we realized that we frequently need a reliable GPS. Garmin has a great user interface and wonderful maps that are easily flash updated.  It's routing has been perfect in the USA and in Europe wherever we used it.  However, our unit cannot operate while charging and it frequently spends 20 - 30 minutes finding satellites.  On ocassion it takes a few hours.  So in Boston we decided to buy a new GPS.  When we arrived back home, I ordered a Mio 220 from Circuit City for $75 (with free shipping).

It arrived today and I eagerly unboxed it.  I pulled down the latest version of miopocket.

and it works like a champ.   I tested it while picking my daughter up from the train station in Seattle.  The GPS finds satellites instantly.  It plays MP3 files and movies.  The touch screen games work well.  I installed other Windows-CE software that also works.  It functions while charging in the car and the suction cup mounting is much better than Garmin's.  It holds on to the windshield firmly and extends further towards the driver.  It is also sturdier and appears less failure prone.

I have not tried any of the GPS programs other than the MIO software and maps that came on the DVD.  I hope the Garmin software will work with my maps from the Nuvi but I doubt it

Unlike Garmin's female voice (whom the kids call Maya), the Mio has a male voice.  The default US English units are yards (on Garmin they are feet).  Both the Mio and the Garmin had problems with the Amtrak station in Seattle but the street directions are fine.  I am more accustomed to the Garmin interface so I don't yet like the Mio.  Also, the Garmin's screen is much bigger.

I think it's pretty cool that the GPS runs windows so I can run lots of great software.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

wishlist for my mobile phone

1 - I would like to add a USB wifi device.  Are there drivers for them available for windows mobile 5 or 6?

2 - I would like to get the camera to work better. Is there better camera software available?  The pictures have good resolution but the optics, colors, contrast, and focus are crap.  Can one attach external optics?

3 - I would also like to buy a bluetooth GPS device for use with streets and trips or tomtom or garmin  or other map software. Any recommendations?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

more photos of Aachen -- http://mw.spaces.live.com/

I uploaded about 5 dozen photos from my walk around Aachen to http://mw.spaces.live.com/ for your viewing pleasure.

Mitch teaches in Aachen, Germany (part 5)


The Aachen office is under construction so Microsoft rented a conference facility 2 Km from the office in a castle called Schloss Rahe. The castle has a moat, a dungeon, and well-appointed, brightly lit conference rooms. We had no projector but someone ran back to the office to get one (a tiny 8" squared unit that worked amazingly well). Microsoft Redmond sent the printed workbooks too late but they arrived literally minutes before the class began. The food and coffee at Castle Rahe is bad (except for the fresh fruit) and there is no Internet available, ouch! However I had almost all of the materials I needed and the courses ran quite well without network access.

Mitch teaches in Aachen, Germany (part 4)


The hotel Aquis Grana is in the center of Aachen next to the big Cathedral complex and cobblestoned squares / pedestrian-only areas. Parking is in an underground garage next door. The rooms are clean, small, and quiet. There are plenty of restaurants and wonderful shopping in the area (great book stores!). There is no health center inside the hotel but it's really interesting to jog around downtown because of all of the tourist attractions (fountains, shops, historical landmarks, University, the Cathedral itself). And push-ups / situps can be done anywhere. I had a great dinner in a local basement-restaurant filled with noisy kids, young couples, and extended familes. German beer is the best. Breakfast buffet at the hotel is also fantastic. I am a big fan of most breakfast foods including Cantonese rice porridge, grains (oatmeal, granola), eggs, fruits, salads, fresh-baked breads. It was fantastic and I ate too much.

Mitch teaches in Aachen, Germany (part 3)

I shall be back in Zurich, Switzerland after teaching two courses in Aachen. I shall be in the Microsoft Zurich offices meeting with some people there.

Zurich is an interesting town with a long history and much less visible devastation from the "war centuries" that one sees in most of Europe. Napoleon fought the Austrians in the area but the town itself was not attacked.

Zurich is on the Limat river and touches the long, skinny, deep lake Zurich. The lake is very clean and the water sports on it are fun.

My daughter Adinah (15) is blogging about her job in Zurich at http://adinahwyle.blogspot.com/ and she has some photographs there of swimming and speed-boating.

# # #

Driving from Dusseldorf to Aachen, Sunday 20th July, 2008

The drive from Dusseldorf to Aachen is interesting. There are very many tiny cultivated fields and dozens of wind turbines generating electrical power. In Germany, apparantly if you generate power using a "renewable" energy source (wind, solar, hydro) the government will pay you 10x the normal price per kilowatt hour. So, for example, if you mount solar panels on your roof, it is more cost-effective if you pump the power into the grid and then pull power back out to run your house because you are paid 10x what it costs you.

There were a few areas of the highway where there was no speed limit but I did not go over 200 for more than a few kilometers because it was really scary and the roads were wet. There were crazies going very fast (about 240). The GPS systems navigated me to the hotel in downtown Aachen without a single wrong turn or difficulty. It is unfortunately very slow to drive in or out of the downtown Aachen area because the streets are narrow, one-way, and serpentine around the pedestrian-only zones. I cannot imagine trying to drive around Aachen without a GPS.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mitch teaches in Aachen, Germany (part 2)


The Air Berlin flight was late leaving Zurich so I arrived in Aachen at rush hour (around 5pm).  When we landed there were two other planes flying right next to ours. All the planes landed within 1 minute of each other (two at once on parallel runways).  Our plane rushed off of the runway because another plane landed right behind us.  The runway on the other side had a plane taking off right after the one in front of it landed.  It was like watching military jet operations.  The Aachen airport uses those special buses that scoot around the tarmac, taking people to and from the planes instead of having the planes pull up to a gate.  We were very efficiently wisked through the high-traffic tarmac and taken to the terminal.  I actually prefer a smaller terminal and those buses to walking and taking trains through the humongous terminals of large airports.
There was no line at the Avis counter and I had my "Skoda Octavia" in under 3 minutes (German efficiency).  When I travelled extensively in Germany in 1981 the Berlin wall had not yet fallen and the idea of driving a Czech (Soviet block) car was absurd.  Now Volkswagen has a close joint venture relationship with Skoda and the Octavia is very impressive.  The six-speed turbo-diesel can accelerate the car (on the Autobahn) up to 200 Km/hr quickly; the German-style performance clutch is like high-friction rubber, biting hard as soon as the clutch pedal moves a few millimeters.  It has a large multi-function display with GPS navigation, entertainment, weather, bluetooth for the phone, and many other features I have not yet needed or used.  The portable GPS I brought with me is not nearly as good as the onboard system; on the way from the airport to my hotel I used both systems but from the hotel to the conference facility I used only the onboard GPS.  I have become better at entering the destination data and the system is gathering up my destination points.

Mitch teaches in Aachen, Germany (Part 1)


My oldest son (Simeon, 17) drove us to the airport, saving Microsoft the $35 shared van ride service fees. I left my laptop at work and texted (sent a text message via cell phone) to Adam, asking him to email me the slide decks for the courses I am teaching in Germany. Adam sent out all the materials and I retrieved them on a borrowed laptop in my hotel the night before the classes started. The class room has no network access so I am very grateful to Adam for sending them.

My 11-year-old son Yofiel and I flew USAir from Seattle to Philadelphia. A 3.5 hour delay on the ground because of a broken jet engine kept us in the plane in Philadelphia longer than we would have liked. Luckily we had packed lots of food (carrots, apples, veggie-burgers, egg-beater sandwiches) and a large nalgene full of water. USAir does not feed or offer drinks topassengers, even after they keep them prisoner on a plane for 3.5 hours because of their extreme incompetence. When USAir announced the a 15-minute delay because the jet engine needed repairs we immediately burst into a familiar song:

Wanna be late?
Well ain't that great.
It ain't no crime
You're not on time.
Got time to spare?
Fly USAir!
And we don't care.
We're US Air!
Connecting flight?
That can't be right.
Gonna miss it.
Goodbye kiss it.

Yofiel and I drew battleship grids on blank paper and fired at each other for a while. I finally won a game against him! Then we spent a few hours watching two movies I had in my phone, sharing the bluetooth headset (one earphone per person). Afterwards, Yofi read about 50 pages of _The_Kite_Rider_ (his summer reading) and I read _The Opposable Mind_ that Austina (a co-worker) gave me. I think the topic is interesting but the writing is bad (tedious, pedantic, repetitious, short-sighted, illogical). Eventually the plane took off and caught a tail wind to make up some of the delay. We were only 6.5 hours in the air instead of the scheduled 8 hours.

My wife Gabriella and two of my three daughters (Adinah, 15; Eitana, 4) have been in Zurich for 4 weeks; they came to the Zurich airport to greet us along with my two nephews (Pino, 5; Livio, 3). My family is visiting Gabriella's family. Adinah took Sunday afternoon off from work to visit the airport and greet us. She is working three jobs at a Zoo here in Switzerland and is having the time of her life. My wife announced to us (in Swiss German) that she would speak exclusively Swiss-German with us in order for us to improve our language skills. Adinah is already speaking Swiss much more fluently than I. I answer back in a mixture of German and Swiss, but everyone understands me. We went shopping in the airport and I babysat the three youngest kids while Gabriella took Yofiel's luggage and groceries to the car. I bought a SwissComm SIM card for 20 Swiss Francs and my cell phone is now working here in Europe; it includes 20 Francs (about 250 minutes) of cellular air time and can be used anywhere in the world (unlike my T-mobile service, for which I must buy a special roaming add-on plan plus $1.50 per minute if I want to use it in Europe, tsk tsk). My brand-spanking new cell phone number is: +41.79.863.2758 (to which you can send text messages). I set up Microsoft Office Communicator to forward office calls to the new cell phone number.

The Zurich airport has grown somewhat with another terminal of gates and more, shorter flights inside Europe. I connected from Zurich to Dusseldorf from where I drove to Aachen. Aachen is about an hour's drive from three different airports and the flight to Dusseldorf connected best from Zurich.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Piping Audio from Phone to Car

I am listening to a great audio book (Beton by Thomas Bernhard) in my phone. I actually have a few queued up in the phone to listen to them when I jog or otherwise have time. But my car has a CD player and radio and no easy way to get at the audio content in my phone. What I currently do is play CDs from the library or burn CDs with audio book content. But then I cannot continue listening to the same book and have a few going at the same time.

So my thought was to have the car stereo bond via bluetooth to my phone as a stereo headset. And I looked around for some way to bluetooth from my phone to the car stereo. My product search came up with some bluetooth to FM transmitters but they were rated poorly because the FM transmitters are too weak. And they were quite expensive. So I looked around for other alternatives. I finally decided to get a "full range" FM transmitter that has an audio-in jack and a 2.5 mm --> 3.5 mm converter to plug in to my phone. My wife had an old mounting bracket that mounts on the vent tines on the car's air conditioning vent and my phone mounts snugly onto it, just above the cigarette lighter. I ordered this device with some trepidation because it costs only $11.50 (including shipping and handling).

It arrived this week and it works perfectly! I am now playing audioboks from my phone through the device. And it has a built-in mp3 player that plays from SD cards or USB flash drives. I tested both and they work perfectly as well. The "full range" FM transmitter has no static at all at the lower range (87.5) but had a bit of static at 107.9. I am really thrilled with the device. Now I need some way to pad it when I pack it up for trips where I rent cars.

It's really cool. I love it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yofiel graduated Elementary School Today

It was not as protracted or boring as the High School graduation and the refreshments were fantastic. Some of the parents put together a great slide show, chronicallying the school year. They even passed out copies. Another professional photographer parent put a flickr URL on the event program flyer. I suppose it's another milestone event for our family, sigh.

The shift from Jr. High to Middle School does make sense. I know Yofiel and his friends are ready for the changes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

best fathers day ever

Slept in late. Yofi made me a mushroom omelet for breakfast. Celebrated Laura's birthday with cake. Played paint ball all afternoon in great weather with Yofi and his class-mates at another birthday party in Puyallup. Went running 8 miles. Played in the backyard and built a big bonfire in the bar-b-q. Indian food for dinner. Started watching a Netflix rental (Flawless with Michael Kane and Demi Moore) with all the teenagers and a whiskey / sprite. Wonderful!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Vegas, baby! (part 5) KA

KA was fantastic. It is the best show I have ever seen in my life. My expectations were high because I had seen excerpts on youtube. The show exceeded my expectations. There were many, subtle, impressive details. The costumes of the ticket handlers and their stage awareness were amazing. The theater setting and stage setting had amazing fit, finish, polish, and attention to details that were awe-inspiring, especially the color and texture. The $150,000,000 stage was, of course, spectacular but the work surrounding it was, to me, even more amazing. The actors and the show itself were great and they were, of course, the core of the presentation. But you expect that kind of super-human circus capability in a Cirque du Soleil show. The martial arts movements were on a par with "crouching tiger, hidden dragon" or "forbidden kingdom" and the fact that it was live was amazing. Some of the "flying," "vertical" martial arts scenes were not enhanced by the flight and acrobatics, especially the last fight scene. I plan to go to more Cirque shows now that I have seen one.

Wrap up

After KA, we took the monorail home and drank whiskey in Robert's room. We went to sleep relatively early and a bit tipsy because our flights went out early Sunday.

I had breakfast at Denny's Sunday morning and was a bit late coming back to the bus but they waited for me. The flights back were just as uneventful as the flights out. Eitana and Gab picked me up at the airport.

In LAX, one of the monitors (running windows) has an embarassing modal dialog box showing. We should have one global setting that disables all such embarassing displays. I believe Win7 will fix this family of problem.

Vegas, baby! (part 4)

Saturday I got up early and ran six miles in my new running shoes. Although I was not the only runner out on the strip that morning the revelers out-numbered the runners by over 100:1. I ran to the end of the strip out past the hotels and wedding chappels where the small strip malls became sparse. I wanted to run until the pavement turned to sand but I also wanted to be back on time for breakfast with David and Robert so I turned around after a bit over 3 miles.

On my way back I noticed this drive through wedding chappel (click the photo to enlarge it):

Notice the sign on the side of the roof:

I did not enjoy running on the strip. The car exhaust fumes were pretty bad and the streets are not bicycle / runner friendly. Drunk people stood in long lines at all the restaurants. Robert, David, and I stood in a long line at a casino whose breakfast was rumored to be good.

...and we were not disappointed. The food was very good, fresh, and prepared according to our requests. I was not hungry again until dinner Saturday night. After breakfast we walked around some more to see museums. I really enjoyed the car museum in the Imperial Palace.

We spent Saturday afternoon at the pool where I got sun burnt. People were drinking in the pool, literally. I swam laps around them.

Then we hopped on the monorail and went to the MGM to eat dinner at the food court where I had rice and vegetables again. Joel's restaurant costs $350 per plate. But it was too crowded and you need a reservation so we ate at the food court for $7 instead. We wandered around the MGM, lingered over a big dessert at Haagen Dazs and then went in to see KA.

Vegas, baby! (part 3)

In addition to the dancing fountains, treasure island show, and other casino displays on the strip, we walked through the "Venice" area and saw the gondala boats. It was quite nice not that impressive.

Late Friday evening we retired to the platinum club private bar in the Imperial (the only place where there was not too much noise, smoke, and large crowds) and I had a glass of red wine while Robert and David continued knocking back Kamikazis. At around midnight they kicked us out of the platinum lounge since we are not platinum club members and I went to sleep.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vegas, baby! Part Deux, the videos

The camera I was carrying around has a video feature that is useful sometimes. I have uploaded some videos to youtube at http://youtube.com/mzzw/ .

Here is a (long-ish) video of the dancing fountains in front of Belagio. Robert is singing in the background. It's a catchy pop tune that I had never heard before.

The original video is too big to upload so I chopped it up into 30-second pieces.

And here are some smaller videos:

The staff of the rocketeer burger place in the food court mall does a line dance to "Johnny Be Good." It was slightly too big for upload so I chopped the video up into 2 pieces:

Vegas, baby! (part 1)

My flight through LAX to LAS was late enough in the morning that I was able to drive some of the kids to school. Simeon had taken my car to participate in some junior statesmen event that started early. The shared van ride service was on-time and traffic was light. The driver was an air force brat from the SF Bay area.

Security was crowded, slow, inefficient, and incompetent.

LAX is large, smoggy, crowded, and my time there was uneventful. I sat in the departure lounge eating the veggie-burger lunch I had packed and listening to "The Forever War" audio book in my phone. I tried the MacDonald's iced coffee and it was disappointing.

Landing in Las Vegas the local temperature was 97-degrees Fahrenheit. I took one of the $6 buses to the strip. It's interesting how everything is air conditioned and all loading / unloading bus / taxi / car / limousine areas are covered. There is never more than 30 seconds where you are outside and even then there is air conditioning blowing at you from some large building. Vegas is also very crowded all the time with people trying very hard to "have a good time." They are constantly smoking, drinking, forced-laughing, shouting, or otherwise expressing some primal, base desire.

Arriving at the Imperial Palace, I discovered a long line to check in and a bustling crowd of gambling guests. The primal, base, carnal idd desires are on display everywhere. You are surrounded by ads for in-room entertainment. Many women and a surprising number of boys are showing off their bodies, undulating and posing. I found the music and fleshy displays nauseating and disgusting. I started regretting going to Vegas. Most people wore the same "uniform," men in shorts and Hawaiian shirts, women in short cocktail waitress-like dresses. Standing a few people behind me in line was David! He has grown a mustache but looks just the same as when we lived in Fremont. We called and messaged Robert who was in his room.

My nice, large room was missing standard business traveler amenities such as a mini-bar or coffee machine. The tv had a screen smaller than my laptop. We met at a bar downstairs and went for a walk along the strip. We had dinner at a food court where I got my favorite (rice and vegetables) dinner. We saw the dancing fountains, played the penny slots for $1 to get free drinks. We walked a few miles along the strip to see the free shows in front of treasure island and the dancing fountains. I bought a great pair of running shoes because I forgot to pack my own. Many of the casinos have look-alike rock stars from the late 20th century, including Elvis, Tina Turner, Freddie Mercury. Others have more primal, base T&A shows with "pole dancing." Many of the guests and gamblers had little kids with them.

Monday, June 2, 2008

direct neural impulse (brain control) for games now on store shelves



The device enables you to play video games without hands or voice.  Just think about cursor movement or “fire!”  game play and it happens without physical manipulation.  The reviewer was able to play a game of pong the first time.  I hope to live long enough to get my brain implant to use machines by thinking.


But we should also remember what killed the Krell!