Murphy’s Law – Down

Wouldn’t you know it – the moment you go on the road, things tend to fall apart. In this case, has gone down . The issue – server load. I am working with the hosting provider on a solution (a real treat while not at home), and hope to have a resolution soon.

UPDATE 7/29/2005: is *still* down, and will be for a couple of days while we move to a dedicated server. In the end, this should resolve a lot of issues and provide some other opportunities.

Musing on the Windows-Powered Treo and the Palm OS…

As I write this, the countdown has long since begun for the press conference announcing the Windows Mobile 5.0–powered Palm Treo 700w device. For some, this day serves as a sort of “VP Day” (“Victory Over Palm”) in the Windows Mobile world. As someone who once used and developed for the Palm platform and subsequently followed the “long and winding Palm road” for a number of years, it does give an opportunity for reflection.

I first started using the Palm OS back in the 3com days with a Palm Pilot Professional. I owned several models before making the switch in 2000. I was very interested in Palm development, but the options at that time were either expensive (CodeWarrior) or complicated (GCC development). As someone interested in use for the enterprise, I ended up limiting myself in those days to PQA-oriented applications. I saw these early obstacles to enterprise development as being a potential pitfall over time, and to some extent, I think I was right. While the Palm did eventually open opportunities for web-based development in a more standardized fashion, serious enterprise application development was limited by tools and technologies.

I really think that some of Palm’s issues relate to the age-old business problem of what you do when you’re “Number 1”. As any sports franchise (and most businesses) will tell you, it’s difficult enough to get to Number 1, and immensely more difficult to stay there. I found the attitude of Palm executives in the first couple of years after the Pocket PC’s launch to be somewhat arrogant and static. The OS went through no innovation for a long period of time, while hardware innovation was mostly evolutionary. As a side note, people who lament over issues with upgradability of Windows Mobile devices typically never went through the period of “zero upgradeability” over several Palm OS releases. It was as bad, and usually worse.

By the time Palm started to react to diminishing marketshare, the responses were just that – reactionary. It seemed to me to lead to another mistake that has a sports analogy. Any coach will tell you that the last thing you ever want your team to do is to play someone else’s style of game rather than your own. Palm truly lost one of its differentiators when it lost “The Zen of Palm” (despite what Palm execs proclaimed). Palm devices and the OS did basic PDA tasks well, and the move towards more features and functionalities created complexities for users. At that point, it became a matter of who did the complex better; this was not Palm’s strong point.

So – what does the future hold? Well, those that proclaim another Microsoft monopoly forget that it has not been a “two-horse race” for a while now. While many work hard to discredit the viability of the Linux OS on PDAs and Smartphones, it is still a definite player. One cannot in any way avoid the prominence of the Symbian OS in the Smartphone world, either. That is, of course, if you do not want to repeat Palm’s mistakes. As for the Palm OS – the acquisition of PalmSource by ACCESS Japan still leaves a lot of questions. Do they continue the traditional OS route? Do they focus on PalmSource’s work in the Linux space? Do they simply want intellectual property? We will simply have to wait and see.

One thing is for certain today; another major change in the PDA and Smartphone space is occurring. I (like many others) never thought I would see the day when Bill Gates and Ed Colligan would stand shoulder-to-shoulder at a public press event. The world is ever-changing; while we think some things could never happen, well… “never say never”.

Windows Mobile UI Design Tips and Tricks: Presentation and Code Available for Download

As promised to those that attended, the code and PowerPoint slides (in PDF format) from my presentation entitled Windows Mobile UI Design Tips and Tricks, delivered this past weekend at New England Code Camp 4 in Waltham, MA, are now available for download.

As always, I really enjoyed this incredible community-driven event, and loved seeing both familiar and new faces in the crowd.

The presentation download covers a number of areas for both Pocket PC and Smartphone developers. The code download includes a little “bonus”; a Windows Mobile class library project (WMFormManager.dll) that can be “plugged in” to both Smartphone and Pocket PC projects in order to provide form management for efficiency and performance. The WMFormManager project also includes complete MSDN-style help and HTML Help for the object models. The two other projects in the download (PPCExample and SPExample) demonstrate tips discussed in the presentation and use the WMFormManager class library).

MSN Alert Me! Actually, you…

I’ve signed up and set up DonSCF.NET to now be available via MSN Alerts. You can sign up for MSN Alert notifications whenever new content is posted. In order to subscribe, you will need a Microsoft Passport account.

To sign up, simply click on the “Alert Me” icon on the right side of the home page. Heck – you can also click right here:

MSN Alerts

The Mobile Devcasters Podcast Is Live!

Well, now we’ve gone and done it. Thom Robbins (New England Regional .NET Developer Evangelist) and I have formed the 2005 version of the “Odd Couple” with our new podcast, the Mobile Devcasters. The show will focus entirely on mobility development with .NET technologies.

We’ve recorded “Episode 0”, a sort of introduction of the two of us and our goals for the show, that is now available for download (18.1 MB MP3 file) . The Mobile Devcasters home page also provides an RSS link for the podcast that is suitable for RSS readers and podcatchers. I will also make a point to announce here whenever new episodes are available.

UPDATE: In my “D’OH” move of the day, I provided an incorrect URL for the Mobile Devcasters website. I have corrected the URL listed above to Note to self – Singular rather than plural…