Back to USA & Windows Phone

We had a great time in Italy.  I’ve got a post of the trip at my other blog.  I like when you reenter the US and the Passport Control officer says ‘Welcome Home’.

I am also kind of glad to be back to my regular mobile phone.  I have been using a Verizon HTC Touch Pro recently.  For the trip, I got a Verizon Blackberry 8830 (think that is what it is called) Worldphone – so it would be easier to keep in touch with family and business at home.  When I returned home last weekend I took the BB offline and reactivated my Touch Pro.

Observations – I have a little more appreciatation for the BB system now.  I still prefer Windows or Palm since they are so much more open and more flexible as far as applications go.

What BB has going for it – in my opinion – is that it is VERY easy to use as a phone.  I’ve got a contact list with a few thousand contacts and I don’t have to access any special screen to get into lookup mode – all I have to do is start entering firstname, lastname or company and the phone does a FAST filtering of my contacts.  Also, for emailing and text messaging the process seems very efficient.  It’s just that doing other things becomes much more limiting than on my windows phone.

One feature of BB’s that I was unaware of – PIN messaging or BB messaging or whatever you call it.  This is like text messaging but here’s the deal.  With text messaging while roaming it costs something like 5 cents to receive and 50 cents to send.  BB PIN messaging between and BB’s regardless of the carrier and regardless of where they are in the WORLD are FREE.  My daughter, who is studying in Florence this semester shares an apartment with 4 other girls.  The other 4 girls all have BBs.  It costs like $1/min to make phone calls on these phones but they don’t use them for talking – they use them for BB messaging – FREE.  So, when I returned home from Italy last weekend, I had my BB reprovisioned on a different line on my account and then shipped the phone back to my daughter to use for the rest of her stay abroad.  Now she can use the BB messaging too.  And one more neat thing about our modern age – Susan is leaving Friday (today) to visit some other cities in Europe for her spring break.  I shipped the phone to her on Monday and she received it on Wednesday – even after one failed delivery attempt!  Pretty cool.

Ciao ( my Italy pictures )


I crossed over to the dark side

About a month or so I gave up my Treo 700P that was working just fine for me.  I had stayed with the Palm o/s because of an application that is important to me and for which I had not found a suitable replacement in the Windows Mobile world.  Anyway, a month ago my brother found the replacement application for me and he turned me on to the HTC Touch Pro which he has been using.  I bought a Touch Pro and I have to tell you – it took me at least a week just to get a mental picture of where the various programs and utilities were. I did finally get it and I do like the phone a lot.  I have been a Palm user for a long, long time.  About two years ago I bought a Windows based phone and I was shocked at how STUPIDLY designed it was.  A large criticism of mine was concerned with silencing the phone.  It required using the stylus because the touch item on the screen was too small.  And, worst of all, giving the silence command made NOISE.  What engineer thought that this was a good idea.

Joyce and I are now getting ready for a vacation to Firenze, Italy.  I got Joyce a world phone (CDMA + GSM)  last fall. This week when I was talking to the Verizon guy to make plans to activate the international service it dawned on me that, especially because of my business, it would make a lot of sense for me to have a world phone too.  I had planned on using one of the inexpensive unlocked GSM phones we got several years ago for our travels.  We would just get a local country prepaid SIM card when we went and enjoy very inexpensive local calling.  We would handle international calling with a global calling card.  This worked pretty well for us making calls but it wasn’t very easy for our family to reach us.  It required international dialing which in our circles wasn’t second nature plus it was much more expensive when done ad hoc.

The global phone idea seemed to make a lot of sense for me being able to keep in touch with business back home.  Verizon had a couple world phones and I picked a blackberry that might be called a curve (not sure).  It was going to be $170 minus a $70 rebate and I figured for $100 it would be worth it to me to just use this phone when I travel.  I went to the Verizon store, picked out a nice looking Red phone and went through the stuff with the sales person.  When she rang up the sale she looked up and said ‘Oh, your phone is free!’.  That was a nice surprise.  She said she thought it might be because of a buy one get another one program even though the one I bought (for Joyce) was 5 months ago.

Oberservations – I have always been kind of anti BB – because of the fact that it is not an open system.  I liked the ability with Palm and Windows to be able to find tons of 3rd party apps. from independent sources.

I first tried something called AstraSync – which is supposed to be software to do wireless sync of email/calendar/contacts for a lower price than the BB enterprise server.  In the last several months I tried to install and configure this software for 2 other peoples’ BB phones.  I was unsuccessful in this endeavor and found AstraSync’s technical support to be worthless.  They only have user supported forums for technical support.  Now, with my BB, I decided to try this software again.  I actually did get it to start sync’ing with my phone which is farther than I had gotten before.  HOWEVER, the sync’ing ran for hours and when it completed it started sync’ing again.  There was an ever present twirling icon in the center of my screen indicating that the sync’ing was going on.  This was annoying AND slowed down the operation of the phone.  Since I have an Small Business Server running in my office – I downloaded and installed the BB server software.  I got this running and sync’ing in a well behaved manner and think life is now good.

While I still do miss having all the nice 3rd party applications for the BB phone – I do find that some of the things it does are extremely FAST.  I’ve got an enormous contact list and all I have to do is type in a couple letters of a first name or a last name or a company and the result is immediate.

I do still plan to go back to my HTC Touch Pro when I return from this trip. I’ll keep the BB for a foreign travel phone.

IT Expo Recap

Here’s my IT Expo recap –

Response Point – Roll Out new Assistant or Administrator program

With the roll out of SP2 for Response Point – we need to install/upgrade the Assistant and Administrator utilities on the workstations that they are installed on.

I create a little batch file on our customer server and send an email to the users with a link to the batch file.  It’s easier than running around or remoting to all of the workstations – this way the users just click a link.  The setup.exe does not run if the Assistant program is running so I insert a line to kill the Assistant if it is already running.

The batch file looks like below.  I put this batch file in the netlogon share and send the users a link to the batch file.


rem batch file to install Response Point Assistant software
rem Allen Miller 2/09

\\serverod\netlogon\taskkill /f /im assistant.exe



MS Response Point Town Hall Meeting #2

You are invited to the SECOND Microsoft Town Hall meeting – where you can find out about what’s going on with Response Point and get your questions answered.

Read about it HERE.

I’m writing a new column

I don’t know if associating with me will hurt their credibility but –, the Web Publishing organization that is putting on IT EXPO in two weeks in Miami, invited me to write a blog there. It’s supposed to be a pretty busy site – I’m going to give it a try – we’ll see if anyone can find me there.

My section is at:


IT Expo – Miami Florida Feb ‘09

We’ve been collaborating on some Response Point projects lately and next month Ed Carnes and I are going to the IT Expo – to support the Response Point channel.  We hope to see you there.  Send me an email if you will be there and we can try and get together.