First Impressions: HTC Hero

My HTC Hero arrived yesterday from Clove (I’ve had my last two handsets from them and have found them to provide great service, and they have an interesting blog).



The device itself is very nice in the hand. I know some reviews have included concerns about the button layout (the back button specifically), but I think it’s fine. I can see why some reviews have complained that the device is sluggish, but again, I think it’s fine. The screen is very nice and it certainly doesn’t show up fingerprints as much as many I’ve seen.


A couple of things about the initial setup of the device: It picked up my network settings without even breaking stride – it didn’t even tell me it was configuring itself. Then it offered up front to connect to one of the wireless networks that it could pick up in my house to speed up the rest of the process. Excellent. Going through and inputting all my details for 3 email accounts (GMail, Exchange and Hotmail) and 3 social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook and Flickr) does delay you from starting to explore the device, but it also gets it out of the way. HTC have done well here.


I should also say that connecting to wireless networks is made easier than I have experienced on any other device. The list of available networks not only shows you clearly with icons which networks are secured or not, but it also tells you the type of security in use. Having had problems connecting devices to a WPA-Enterprise/PEAP/MS-CHAPv2 network in the past, I really appreciate how easy it is on the Hero.


I’ve never played with an Android device before this, so I’m not sure how much raw Android I’m seeing. The HTC Sense user interface certainly seems seemless. It does, however, introduce some slight oddities. Considering that it has a Google OS at its heart, Sense puts my Exchange and Hotmail mail accounts front and centre (with notifications, etc), but my GMail account seems to be a second class citizen.


Also, as much as Sense is consistent in the interface of its apps (the same sliding view bar is present in the mail, Twitter and contacts apps), it’s equally inconsistent where social media integration is concerned. People, the contacts application, integrates data and photos from Facebook, but there’s no Facebook app (I hear an official one is due imminently); Flickr is the same. Twitter has a gadget and a full application (Peep), but isn’t integrated into People.



One of the main issues that I have so far surrounds the calendar widgets and application. I like to have my upcoming appointments on my homescreen and the smaller of the two calendar widgets lets me see my next appointment (it would be nice to have the option for it to show two or three). If I tap this, it shows me the detail of the appointment, but the only options I have (unless I haven’t found the others yet, in which case somebody needs a refresher on UX design, and it’s not me) are edit and delete. I can’t switch to a day/week/month view or to the next appointment. If I use the larger widget, which displays the current month I can tap into a day to see a list of appointments, I can’t then scroll left/right to see the previous/next day – instead you have to drop back to the month view and select another day. This needs to be improved.


On the whole, I’d say that HTC’s widgets are good quality, although I’m looking forward to seeing more of them, and in different shapes and sizes (I’m the sort of person who wants to tile as much useful stuff into the screen real estate as possible and right now I’m left with some gaps). I also think it’s fair to say that the widgets that take up a whole page, don’t always make the best use of screen real estate (Mail and Twitter, I’m looking at you!).


I’ve been asked by a couple of people how good a Twitter client Peep is. I need more time with it to really say, but I do know this already – it needs more notification options. On/off is not good enough. I follow enough people on Twitter than there are always new tweets. What I need is an option to be notified only if I get a new @reply or DM.


I still haven’t tried all of the applications on the device, never mind those on the Android Market (although I did install Google’s Sky Map, which I like), but so far it’s a pretty positive experience.


One last thing, the speaker in this thing goes to 11! If I was in my early teens, everybody on the train would be able to hear my happy hardcore blasting out, not just one end of the carriage!

Windows 7 may ship with IE in Europe after all

It seems that there may be agreement between the European Commission and Microsoft to Windows 7 being released in Europe with Internet Explorer 8 present, but with consumers being offered a “ballot screen” which would allow them to simply select from a list of other web browsers. This would set the chosen browser as default and disable Internet Explorer.


This would mean that the issues that I discussed in my previous post about Windows 7 E would go away as the versions of Windows 7 shipped in Europe would share the same functionality as the rest of the world out of the box, which is a positive step. PC manufacturers would still be free to choose to pre-install any browser(s) that they choose to be the default of the machines they ship in Europe.


The proposal states that the ballot screen will be populated with up to 10 of the most used web browsers (with a usage share of at least 0.5% in the European Economic Area, and only one version per vendor), with the top 5 being given prominence. The proposal also includes a commitment to bring the ballot screen retrospectively to XP and Vista via Windows Update.


For more detail, read Microsoft’s press release regarding their proposal to the European Commission and the statement from the Commission.


[UPDATE] Microsoft has now confirmed that it is scrapping the E editions and Windows 7 will ship in Europe with the same versions as the rest of the world, with the addition of the ballot screen.

Directory of PowerShell User Groups

[UPDATE] I decided to setup a seperate page for this directory so that it doesn’t get lost in the mists of time. You can get to that directly at http://www.jonoble.com/powershell-user-groups/. I won’t be making any further updates to this post, but I will keep that page as up to date as possible.


The announcement of the creation of the new Upstate New York PowerShell Users Group made me wonder if there was a list somewhere of all the worldwide PowerShell user groups and script clubs. Since one didn’t jump out at me from Bing or Google, I thought I’d make one (which turns out to not be so easy when you only know “user group” in English!).


Like all such lists, I’m bound to have missed some, so let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to keep this post updated.


Europe


UK PowerShell User Group
Typically meets in or near Microsoft’s UK offices in London or Reading, but also streams on Live Meeting.


PowerShell Anwendergruppe
German speaking IT Pro group supporting all PowerShell topics. Based in Munich and normally meeting in the Microsoft Campus in Unterschleißheim.


Scandinavian PowerShell User Group
A PowerShell user group for everyone in Scandinavia. English spoken site with local country groups.


La community Italiana di Windows PowerShell 
Italian PowerShell Community.


North America


Virtual PowerShell User Group
Not location specific (uses Live Meeting), but I’ve included it under North America because I believe Marco runs it from his secret lair in a hollowed-out volcano in Canada.


Florida PowerShell User Group


Seattle PowerShell Script Club


Michigan PowerShell Script Club


Central Ohio PowerShell Users Group


Upstate NY PowerShell Users Group


Australasia


The Australian PowerShell User Group in Perth


Brisbane Powershell Usergroup Australia


 


If you’re interested in setting up a user group in your area, check out the support you can get from PowerShellCommunity.org.

Windows 7 E

[UPDATE] Microsoft is scrapping the E editions of Windows 7. See this post for details.


Now I’m sure you’ve heard this news before reading this, but in case you haven’t prepare to be shocked and bemused…


Following on from various wrangling and threats of fines after a complaint to the European Union from browser maker Opera about Microsoft’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows being anti-competitive, Microsoft has stated that it will release special E editions of the different Windows 7 versions in Europe. Windows 7 E editions will not contain a web browser, and unlike the old N (which didn’t contain Windows Media Player, to try to please the EU, and which nobody bought), there’s no option this time – if you’re in Europe, you get the E edition and you can’t purchase a version of Windows 7 that contains IE.


Funnily enough Opera isn’t pleased about this, presumably because they have to now provide a distribution mechanism for people to get their browser onto a PC that doesn’t have a browser already with which to download it, and increasingly may not have an optical disk drive. Opera would like Windows 7 to include a “ballot screen” which would provide a selection of browsers that the user could choose from. It doesn’t take a genius to see why Microsoft would be reluctant to do that since however they ordered the options, someone would be bound to complain (and by “complain”, I mean “probably take legal action”).


It’s not all bad though. The majority of consumers who use Windows get it with a new PC, and the OEMs who manufacture those PCs aren’t going to send one out to retail without a web browser. They’ll undoubtedly do deals with one browser company or another to bundle their offering as they do with anti-virus and other software. The vast numbers of Windows users in a corporate environment don’t need to worry either since their IT department will sort them out. The only people who are really affected by this are the small percentage who buy a boxed (or downloaded) copy of Windows 7 to upgrade an existing computer. It’s a small percentage of people who buy Windows this way simply because the numbers of corporate users and PC buyers are so large, but I expect that the number will be larger with Windows 7 simply because it’s so much better suited to running on existing hardware than Windows Vista was – I’m running it quite happily on my netbook and I also put the release candidate on my mother’s creaking “built for XP” laptop with 512Mb RAM; it works fine!


I said this affects people who are buying a copy to upgrade, but the other caveat to this is that because there were no Windows Vista or XP E editions, Microsoft isn’t providing Windows 7 E upgrade versions as they have done previously. They are providing the full version of Windows 7 E, in the UK, for roughly the equivalent of the upgrade pricing they’re using outside the EU if you pre-order from selected suppliers between now and the 9th August.


So, if you’re moving your old PC to Windows 7 E, not only will you not have a browser, but you’re going to have to do a clean install too. Microsoft have put up a web page which takes you through the steps you can take to make the transition as painless as possible. Obviously it tells you how to get to running Windows 7 E with IE8, but if you already use a different web browser I’m sure you can work out how to switch it in at that point.


Of course it’s not only people using Windows in Europe who are impacted by the release of the E editions. Software developers worldwide, who may have used the fact that IE was present in every version of Windows in their applications, will have to look at ways around it being missing, or another browser being in its place. There is some excellent advice for developers on the Windows blog about this. I’d recommend that Windows sys admins check that out too, since it’ll help them in testing software before rolling it out across their Windows infrastructure.


Some further reading regarding Windows 7:
…for IT Pros: Talking About Windows and IT Pro at Home
…for people building hardware or developing software: Ready. Set. 7.


NB. If you’re yet to try out the Windows 7 Release Candidate, don’t wait too long – the download page says it’s only available until the 20th August. Windows 7 will be available to volume license customers on the 1st September, and on general release from 22nd October.