Archive for September, 2010


Its only taken me a week to notice that Froyo allows rotation both left and right for apps now, effectively giving 270 degree rotation.

A great addition IMHO, and one of the things that I thought the phone needed.

It is slowly revealing itself to me ūüôā

I have to say that one app really impressed me this week, mostly because it saved me money.

The app in question is ShopSavvy. If you’re not familiar with the idea of this app, it lets you scan a products barcode, and it will then go away and find the best deals for you online, and lets you link through to the sites that are selling the product.

A colleague lent me a book, and I decided it would be worthwhile getting my own copy, since it was a technical book that would be very helpful for work.

He tells me its around £50 new, which made me wince a bit, and even shopping around manually, the best price I could find was just over £21.

I then fired up ShopSavvy on my Desire, scanned the barcode on the back of the book. ShopSavvy then came back, literally in seconds with a list of prices for both new and used copies of the book.

The price I paid in the end? The book was just over ¬£10 for a used copy, and with the postage, the total came to just over ¬£13. And it was through Amazon, who I’d previously done a manual search on and came up with the price of just over ¬£21.

So next time you’re shopping, and want to do a price check, think of ShopSavvy, and you may save yourself some money.

It’s also available on Apple devices too, and it’s free. What are you waiting for, go get it now!

Well, having decided to bite the bullet and flash my droid, I thought I’d report back.

As I’ve already mentioned, battery life seems much improved. Prior to upgrading, having charged my Desire in the car on the way to work, I would often find the battery level in the orange, and would need to charge it again on the way home.

Now, even with some wireless usage added in to the mix, the battery is showing only the smallest drop in power, and I could happily get home without a recharge.

Over all, the phone feels snappier thanks to the speed improvements, and the app2sd option is a big memory saver, where it is supported by the apps. Annoyingly, not all do, but given time this should be addressed.

Also, there is now the option to have your apps update automatically by ticking an option. This can be found by going to the Market, selecting Downloads, then clicking on an installed app. At the top of the apps description will be an Updates option. Once ticked your app will update itself as and when a new version becomes available without you having to intervene.

Sadly you have to do it for each app, unless there’s an update all option I’ve not yet found, but it is a step forward.

Flash is now supported, and it works pretty well in the browser. Take that iPhone!!

The other ‘Flash’ item is the inclusion of a pretty good flashlight app that uses the LED flash as a torch. There are 3 brightness levels, a flashing light option, and an emegency option that flashes SOS repeatedly. It’s pretty good.

Other things that are new, which I’ve not had a chance to try yet are wireless tethering, which looks simple to set up and use (I’ll report back on this as soon as I’ve used it in anger), plus 720p video recording, which again looks simple to use, and is integrated into the new camera software.

There are some other tweaks, like a modified SMS message editor and some other bits and bobs like Google search, which offers improved searching throughout  the content on your phone.

So far I’m mighty impressed with Froyo, and I’m hoping Gingerbread (Android 3.0) will make even more improvements.

If you don’t already have Froyo, go get it, even if you have to root your phone to do so!

Just a quick post Froyo note. I’ve now had it for a week, and the standby life of the battery is hugely improved. It was worth doing it just for that, let alone the other features.

Though I would say that I did also flash the radio at the same time as the rooting/Froyo update, so it is possible that has also had a positive effect.

Well, I finally got bored of waiting for Three to get their act together with regards to the Froyo OTA update. IMHO silence is not always golden, and too much can be deafening.

So I took matters into my own hands, and followed the article I found here: Root your 3 branded Desire

Make sure you turn on automatic backup before, so that when you reboot, the handset will automatically restore your settings and data.

I followed it to the letter, and ran it under Windows 7, and only ran in to issues when I set about running Unrevoked3.

The first part went well, however once the phone rebooted, there was a problem with the Android Bootloader Driver not being found. Since I knew the driver was installed, having had it working earlier, I did an Update Drivers from device manager, and chose an existing driver, using the HTC Bootloader one that was listed.

That installed ok, and Unrevoked carried on and installed the custom recovery. once that was sorted, I took out my goldcard, and put my normal SD card back, and rebooted to check the phone was ok, which it was.

I then went over to here: Rooted Official Froyo and downloaded the zip file for both the radio and Froyo to my PC. I then copied them over to the root of my SD card an powered the phone down.

From here on I followed the instructions here: Rooted Official Froyo, first flashing my radio, then flashing with the Froyo update.

Resist the urge to fiddle with your phone, just let it finish each task, then reboot as necessary.

After the Froyo update, I rebooted and it took quite some time, however the Three branding was gone, and the HTC branding was subtly different. It took quite a while, since it was restoring my files from the SD card. Once everything had come up, I rebooted again, and it started normally this time.

All my settings and programs were there, all my messages and email settings too, so quite an impressive restore.

I now have root access too, plus features like move to SD, Wifi hotspot, flashlight etc, plus there’s probably a host of other stuff I’ll find as I go on, not to mention all of the 2.2 performance enchancements.

So far all seems fine, but I’ll report back if I run into any problems.

Remember, you could brick your phone doing this, so only do it if you’re prepared to take the risk.

TTFN

It looks like HTC Desire owners on T-Mobile will be finally getting their Froyo.

In an article here: T-Mobile Launches Froyo it seems that as of today, it will be made available for download, and will be an OTA update.

Lets hope it doesn’t go belly up, as have other updates!!

As for Three, still silence. Bah Humbug

So, you’ve completed the migration, but is it all over?

Actually, no.

Firstly, you will have lots of questions from users, especially if you are going to only use the web interface, and drop Outlook completely.

I would, in fact recommend you drop Outlook completely, because it is not the same once disconnected from Exchange, and calendars especially don’t seem to work too well with it.

We only allowed the support team Outlook in the end, because they needed the Outlook functionality in order to work with the CRM properly.

Everybody else had to move to webmail based functionality, which caused major training headaches. My advice would be to meet with any teams affected before the migration, and explain potential pitfalls.

And the pitfalls?

Well, here are the ones I can remember:

1. Google uses tags instead of folders to organise emails. This can make things hard for users, but there is a lab item called ‘Nested Labels’ which can help, and will neaten up your emails.

2. There is no GAL. Although all of your contacts are there, you can’t pick them from an address book a la Outlook. You have to start typing and Gmail will try and find it for you. Once used, it will remember it, but it is quite frustrating at first.

3. Signatures are less flexible than in Outlook. Images are harder to insert, and may preclude the use of the offline mode.

4. Groups are MUCH different. Google groups, whilst being distribution lists, are also discussion groups that archive things sent to them. Be careful what you write. Using Postini also broke our groups and Postini had to supply a huge regex to allow group mail sending.

5. Management time was much higher initially than Exchange, due to users learning a new system, and learning how to use the management interface.

6. We had to configure a simple relay service in house to allow devices such as scanners and alerting systems to send emails via Gmail. Microsft SMTP service was used, and used TLS to connect to Google.

7. Different browsers behaved in different manners and there were lots of support problems for browser related issues.

8. Shared calenders wouldn’t work if Outlook was used.

9. Some users found Labs items to make life better, but this meant support calls for things I knew nothing about.

10. Filters, which work a bit like Outlook rules, can be a bit fiddly to set up.

11. Doing some things requires the use of Labs features.

Overall it wen’t well, and nothing was lost in translation, but I would urge anybody doing this to:

a) Don’t do it on your own, it needs management and techies looking over each others shoulders.

b)Plan Plan Plan

c) Engage one person from each group of affected users to ensure everybody knows what is happening and when, and how it will affect the way they work.

d) Read EVERYTHING Google has on the web about doing it, and check regularly for updated tools.

Good luck!!

So we’ve done a test migration, and have our Exchange account forwarding to the new account in Gmail.

Once you’re satisfied, migrate a small group of trusted, possibly techy people, migrate them too.

Once you’re happy all is well, you can begin the migration of everybody else. Once the accounts are created and emails etc are migrated, and all users have forwarding enabled, you can then go through the process of making sure all the groups are set up with correct email addresses and aliases, and also ensure any aliases for users are added as well.

If you have external contacts, especially if they belong to groups, add them too.

If as we had, there are multiple email domains, don’t worry, when you add another, Gmail automatically adds aliases based on existing usernames/email addresses.

Although the migration will add users calendar data, it won’t add things like bookable resources i.e rooms, so you may also need to add these manually, and also manually recreate existing bookings.

Once all users are migrated, you can think about moving your MX records to point at Google.

Details of these settings are here: Gmail MX records

Since DNS records can take anywhere between 24 and 72 hours to replicate, leave the forwarding on on your Exchange users until you’re sure no more email is being delivered. Use the standard Exchange tools to do this.

If you were unable to configure forwarding during the migration, or couldn’t make it work, you may well need to run the migration tool again, to ensure any missing items are synced up to Google.

If you are planning to use Postini, wait until you are happy with Gmail before turning it on, as it comes with problems of it’s own, too numerous for me to detail here.

Now all your users should be able to access Gmail through the web, and have email anywhere.

Once you have completed the planning stage, and everybody knows what is happening, it’s time to check the Google tools again. Yes, they change that often!

Once you know how many users you’ll need, you can visit Google and set up an account and buy the number of users you need. You only need to buy user accounts, as groups and calenders all come in the package. You can add the user accounts one at a time, in groups or all at once. It is effectively like buying credits which we will later use to add user accounts.

One area which was lacking at the time I carried out the migration, was that groups had to be created manually, and also populated manually with users once they had been migrated.

You will also need to set up your domain within Google, for which you will need to prove domain ownership, either by adding a Google specific CNAME to your DNS, or by adding an HTML file to the root of your website (If it has the same domain name).

At this stage DO NOT change your MX records, it may cause mail delivery issues.

When migrating to Google, I had to use several tools. Firstly, I had to use a tool which extracted the users from active directory, and created the user accounts in Google. Luckily it had a test feature, as it was a nightmare to configure. I then had to use Google Apps sync and Calendar sync, installed on each and every PC to upload user data to their accounts.

Since I did this, Google has a much better tool which uses a list of users to upload in CSV, and imports directly into Google from Exchange without ever having to visit an end users PC.

Follow the admin guide to use this tool, it explains it better than I could.

Now you have the migration tool installed, you can start the process, however initially start by migrating only yourself, so that you can test the migration tool does exactly what is says it should.

At this point, your email will be in 2 places, but only being delivered to Exchange, so make sure you add forwarding to your Exchange account to make sure any new emails are sent to the Gmail account too.

We were lucky enough to be adding a new email domain, so I was able to set up the MX records for that to Gmail, making forwarding easier, but as I recall you can send to temporary addresses at Google.

If you have problems forwarding, you can re-run the migration tool and specify a time period to sync from, and catch up with those emails.

As for us, because we had dual delivery (2 Domains), this wasn’t a problem, and we were safely able to forward, just be careful if you have Exchange mailbox limits, because this can stop forwarding if mailboxes get full.

Once you’re happy with your migration, you can move on to the rest.

Before jumping in though, you first need to plan, otherwise you can end up in trouble. I admit I didn’t plan enough, and it made it much harder.

Before you go ahead and buy a Google Apps account, you need to do the following:

1. Review the accounts, groups and calendars in use in your exchange environment. Record what groups are used for, what shared calendars do, and if you have any user accounts that are shared rather than using groups.

2. Once you’ve completed the review, decide what needs to stay, and what can go. If anything is not really being used, get rid of it now whilst you have the chance.

3.Decide when the migration will take place, who will be migrated, and when. Communicate this accurately, and if possible, arrange for training of key users so that support can be provided.

4.Make sure users are informed of key differences in working, especially if you will be dropping Outlook in favor of the Gmail web interface.

Once you have finished planning, take time to double check your processes, and ensure anybody helping is fully aware of what is happening.

Last year, I took a position at a Cambridge based company as a sysadmin.

Part of the job involved a project to migrate from an in house Exchange server, to a Google Apps solution.

I was largely left to my own devices to do it, and never having attempted anything like it before, I approached it with some trepidation, since I was to do it on my own, with next to no project management assistance, and having to do my daily job as well.

So, where did I start? Well, the only place I could, which was Google.

A good place to start is here: Migration Options

Read all that Google has to say here, that relates to your specific migration requirements, because it will help you to decided the best method.

Have a damn good search around too, because there are several tools that Google has which you may need.

Once I was clear on Google’s offering, I also downloaded this: Admin Guide.

The next phase, coming in part 2, was the most important. Planning.

Well, I’ve been having my usual trawl for information about when there might be a serving of Froyo for my Three branded HTC Desire.

Today I found this article: Branded HTC Desire owners still waiting for a serving of Froyo

It is an interesting read, and highlights how it seems to be the networks and their branding which are the problem. Not just Three, but others too.

What is annoying is that Three don’t seem to have added much, aside from a logo during boot and some Three specific shortcuts to their web pages, so why have the loyal customers been left in the lurch? Surely it can’t be that hard, after all, HTC had the update ready in July, after making sure everything worked with the Sense interface.

I have now come to the conclusion that the only way I will be able to get Froyo is to root my phone, de-brand and install it myself.

That is not good, especially for a loyal customer of 6 years, who is paying to own the phone.

The plan is to root and flash on Monday, as I have a day off and can take my time. I’ll report back then……

As anybody who’s read this blog knows, I’m fairly miffed that Three in the UK still haven’t got their fingers out and deployed the update to Froyo (Android 2.2) to owners of branded/locked handsets.

I have an HTC Desire, and I really want to upgrade, since features like the ability to move apps to SD card, freeing up phone memory, wireless tethering (Hotspot capability)  and huge speed increases with enhanced battery life are all pretty appealing.

Three have said ‘The end of summer’, which is IMHO a little bit open ended, since a look out of the window suggests summer may have already passed by, leaving people with A) No more summer and B) No Froyo.

I regularly search for updates to this wildly vague statement, and found this today. Three Announces Hero and Desire Dates

TBH it is still pretty vague, and doesn’t say much more, but lets all keep our fingers crossed that now September is here, we’ll get our Froyo.

Since Android 3, or Gingerbread, is apparently going to be making an appearance in Q4 of 2010, I hope Three make a better job of timing the release of that….