Category Archives: Computers and Internet

Fun with Windows Phone 10…

I might be a rarity, but I rather like Windows Phone and recently upgraded from Windows Phone 8 to a shiny new Lumia 950 running Windows Phone 10.

The Windows 10 interface on Windows phones is excellent and far better, in my ardent opinion, than either the Apple or the Android offerings. criticisms around the apps remain valid regrettably, but that’s mostly down to Microsoft’s failure to engage the marketplace properly (though Windows phones do sell 30% of the volume of Apple phones, so is not exactly insignificant). The integration with the st of the MS ecosystem outstanding and the phones are reasonably priced.

Custom Ringtones… GRRR!

However Microsoft remain far from perfect in some of their decisions and one which has been plaguing me for several weeks now has been the fact that they broke custom ring tones etc. in the last major update (The one before OS build 10.0.10586.218). The update deleted all the custom ringtones on the phone and made it surprisingly difficult to add new ones.

I thought I had tried everything, and spoken with Microsoft several times as well as perusing the Microsoft help (which is either incomplete or simply incorrect) and many forums. Although many people have struggled with this issue, solutions were few and far between

After extensive investigation and testing using two different Lumia 950s running the latest version of Windows phone 10 (OS build 10.0.10586.218) I can provide the following insight:

  • Ring tones must reside in the Ringtones folder (and it seems that this folder must remain on the phone not on the SD card though I haven’t tested this extensively)
  • MP3 and WMA files are supported. WAV do not seem to be usable. I haven’t tested anything else. 
  • The one CRITICAL requirement is that you MUST copy to the Ringtones folder from your PC over USB. Every other approach I’ve tried, including Bluetooth, download from OneDrive, copy from SD card using the Files app, etc. has failed.
  • The following make NO difference whatsoever to whether the file will or won’t appear in the ring tone selection drop-down (personalisation, sounds, ringtone)
    • Genre (ignore any advice about this needing to be set to a genre of ‘ringtone’)
    • Sample length (ignore any advice about this needing to be set to 40 seconds or less)
    • Bit rate (I had this running with bit rates from hundred and 128 to 320 kbps)
    • Metadata (it seems to largely ignore all the metadata in the file header, though there is something slightly odd going on and it seems to extract the track name correctly even if it has a leading track number in either the file name all the track name)
  • You cannot create folders within the Ringtones folder and use  these to organise ring tones and alerts;  anything within a folder  is ignored.

Once you have added ringtones in this way in then select the ring tone from Personalisation, Sounds and the Ringtone drop-down; your custom sounds will be at the bottom of the list and there is no way to remove the undesirable built-in tones.

 

Custom notifications for texts  etc.

Exactly the same rules apply  for notifications, except  that they are added by going into  Manage App Sounds at the bottom of the Personalisation, Sounds  screen.  You then click on each app that provides notifications and select your  notification sound.  Since there is no way to tell  the length of the sound you’re selecting, you may wish to change the notification sound names to something like “alert-soundname”

 

The Alarms App bug

My final observation is that  the Alarms App ignores  the sound you select  through the application. However my big discovery is that you can set the alarm sound exactly the same way that you set notification sounds  (see the previous paragraph).  Clearly this is a bug,  but it’s good to have a workaround.

 

Conclusion

This investigation has cost Microsoft one returned under warranty handset, with Amazon providing me with replacement handset no questions asked (because they provide excellent customer service). This has at least allowed me to do some diagnostics and prove that it was not a hardware issue; it is something which occurred following the latest OS upgrade, though Microsoft have been slow to admit it.

So,  what we learn is that Amazon have outstanding customer service;  Microsoft very nearly build great products but badly lack the attention to detail that their fruity rival used to  benefit from and that they are surprisingly poor at disseminating knowledge of issues and resolutions through the community, to their support personnel or keeping their web estate updated  with changes.

I hope all this helps people out there.

 

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Why do SharePoint projects fail?

It has been our observation that many, and perhaps most, SharePoint projects in the English (as distinct from Scottish, Welsh etc) National Health Service fail to a greater extent than they succeed. Yet the NHS has very strong needs for the types of solution that SharePoint provides, it has increasingly mature infrastructure and project skills as well as access to technical skills which are as competent as any other sector, whether provided internally, through contractors, suppliers (or partners as we like to call ourselves) and Microsoft itself.

 

In the course of our research 9and writing a much more extensive article on the subject) we have identified teh following core reasons why SharePoint projects fail:

  1. Trusts don’t know what to ask for or even what Sharepoint might do for them; many suppliers don’t understand the NHS. Communicatoisn gaps ensure.
  2. SharePoint is a huge application and can solve many issues, leading to prioritisation issues and massive scope creep
  3. No single person has sufficient knowledge of SharePoint to know all the out of the box capabilities
  4. Trusts naively beleive that they can deploy impactful technology without building in appropriate change management to drive the adoption and deliver benefits

 

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e-mail – illness or cure

The following are some thoughts drawn from a discussion during the Information managers breakfast meeting in mid June

There has been a transformation in e-mail use since the early days. Some of this is due to the fact that originally tools were just text (e.g. MS Mail). Now tools like MS Outlook with MS exchange are incredibly feature rich. Also e-mail was much slower back in the day with the time for messages to be delivered from servers often an hour or more. Now if e-mail isn’t instant…..users complain.  The tendency to use email as an instant messaging system is partly responsible for the degradation of the quality of writing – as noted, it has become a conversatoin rather than a letter, with ‘chat’-grade grammar and phrasing.

When looking at the collaboration profile of e-mail it has become increasingly permanent, with our email stores being used as a file store. It is not uncommon for users to have 1000+ unsorted emails in their inbox – hardly a well planned information system.

While email can sometimes be a planned collaboration between two parties, more often it’s not. Email is a asynchronous, ‘different-time’ tool, however users are often using it as a real-time tool expecting an instant response.

e-mail is perceived as cheap by users however the cost of maintaining the infrastructure (hardware,software and people)is substantial.

e-mails sent from mobile devices are often more succinct than those sent from PCs.

Policies need to reflect e-mail is the same as an external letter and how to use it in the organisation.

Email has become the user’s all in one communciation tool, people e-mailing colleagues across the office from them, transferring huge files in and out of the organisation. In some cases people may desire to avoid Face to Face confrontation and so they use email, even when it is far from the best tool for the job.

Email has largely replaced the letter and this has raised a number of issues. One is the fact that an email can be produced swiftly and distributed widely; the agility of the medium leads to a lack of ‘damping’ – no time to reflect on the right thing to say; and almost no opportunity to pull the outgoing, hasty response from outbox (or mail room – or even to call the recipient’s secretary and ask them to remove it, as I ahve done in my more hotheaded youth). Since email represents the organisation and can impact on personal and organisational reputation, this is a risk,

.Historically letter writing skills for business communication were part of training professionals in an organisation, nobody appears to train people in e-mail writing in a similar way.

The storage of email needs to be tackled as it represents important business correspondence that needs to be filed and easily searchable. Businesses are using: document management tools like SharePoint, INVU, case management software, archiving tools like enterprise vault and also bespoke systems. Individualks may save emails to a local drive, have a message store set up in theior inbox or (like me) transfer important infomration to OneNote. But there tends to be a lack of coordination.

Policies need to reflect e-mail is the same as an external letter and how to use it in the organisation.

As an indicator of the value – and the problem – of email,  note that personal email quotas have increased to around 400MB from about 50MB. The use of archiving tools is helping to reduce the need for large quotas. Outlook .pst files have a 2GB limit.

That people use email in this way is not a ‘bad’ thing, it simply highlights the need, demand and utility for an instant messaging type tool; however the trend is for all email to be treated as IM and that leaves us without a considered communication medium (as letters were).

I am torn between whether I want my email application to include IM facilities (OCS goes someway towards this) or whether to keep them seperate and make email become more formal again – but for that to happen we need to see a general decline in email volume.

Finally, it is worth noting the recent press announcments about Google Wave – touted as the successor to email. http://wave.google.com/

Simon Hudson

Director at Cloud2

 

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