May 2012 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Lumia 800: Timer App? (27th May 2012)

Cooking for me amounts to:

  1. Pre-heat the oven.
  2. Decide what to eat.
  3. Unpackage food from fridge or freezer.
  4. Adjust oven temperature if needed.
  5. Place food in oven.
  6. Wait for the right amount of time.
  7. Turn off oven.
  8. Serve food.

As my ancient Casio watch has finally used up its replacement battery, I’m looking to use my phone for the timing aspect to this.

Searching the Marketplace

  1. Started typing timer.
  2. That came up as a suggestion before I had even finished typing.
  3. Clicked it and it ran the search.
  4. List was quite long. There’s plenty of choice for basic features!
  5. Am especially keen to find a Metro-looking one which will prevent the lock screen.
  6. I clicked a few of them, read the author’s description, then went to the screenshots.
  7. Eventually found one called Timer by Christian Dullweber whose screenshots look completely native and makes sensible use of controls.
  8. Installed it.
  9. As it installs, you are taken to the applications list and it gets a progress bar underneath.

Once it had installed, I clicked it to open it:

  1. First screen shows 3 preset timersL
    • 1 hour 30 minutes, presented as: 1:30:00
    • 5 minutes, presented as: 0:05:00
    • 3 seconds, presented as: 0:00:03
  2. The oven had pre-heated by now, so I pressed and held on the 5 minutes one.
  3. Happily, as I hoped, this displayed a context menu for it.
  4. Options were edit or delete.
  5. I click edit.
  6. This gives me a set of 3 options, again looking totally standard:
    • Timespan
    • Sound
    • Name
  7. I clicked on Timespan and got the standard “ooh, pretty” interface like setting dates and times.
  8. Swiped the minutes column upwards to 10.
  9. Clicked the tick to save this setting.
  10. Now I clicked on the Name.
  11. Replaced the text with Pizza and saved.
  12. This started the timer running.

Dinner at North Nineteen (25th May 2012)

Cycled with Fiona to her blood donation near Oxford Street and got there easily before 10am. Rode back and slumped for a while. Had lunch a bit after mid-day. Snoozed through some hours in the afternoon, then had a big meal with desserts at our favourite local pub: North Nineteen.

Lumia 800: Photos & Sharing (24th May 2012)

Fiona was watering the quartet of potted herbs I bought for her last year. It was a sunny morning and the window was open, looking out on some green trees and the London skyline.

Made for a surprisingly nice photo, so nice that it’s now the wallpaper on my phone. The camera seems to have a lot of critics on the Internet but my initial experience has been positive.

I was able to upload the photo to my SkyDrive from my Lumia. Then, using the SkyDrive website on my laptop, set which specific contacts I’d like to share it with. It all worked fine.

More Space to Share

SkyDrive is file hosting provided by Microsoft as part of the Windows Live, Hotmail and Windows 7 in different ways. There was a notice above my Hotmail inbox saying the storage would be 7GB soon but there was a free upgrade to keep the current 25GB. So I followed it and, sure enough, was granted the full 25GB free.

Only took a few clicks, so I showed Fiona how to do the same from her Hotmail account.

Lumia 800: gMaps App? (20th May 2012)

Looking at the reviews of gMaps for Windows Phone 7 and the gMaps screenshots, this looks like something I need. Sadly I wasn’ able to install it on the Lumia at the moment:

  1. I first tried finding it in the Marketplace app.
  2. It isn’t there, predictably.
  3. I closed the Marketplace app.
  4. Returned to the Start Screen.
  5. Clicked on Internet Explorer.
  6. Typed in the URL.
  7. Had typed phome instead of phone so I got a Bing Web Search results page.
  8. The results were total rubbish! Just some domain name registry stuff.
  9. When did Microsoft get so bad at search?!
  10. Held my finger down on the input to get the I-beam cursor.
  11. Dragged down then across until it was just after the errant letter.
  12. Had to do this 2 times as I moves slightly while raising my finger, so the I-beam jumped to the wrong letter.
  13. Pressed Backspace.
  14. Typed n.
  15. Pressed the button.
  16. I again got a search result list instead of it navigating to the website. WHAT?!
  17. At least the 1st result was the site I wanted, so I clicked it.
  18. Weirdly the site started on its Stats page which wasn’t want I wanted at all.
  19. Clicked the Home link.
  20. After the navigation and first bit of main content is the search box.
  21. We all know the search box should be top-right of every page. Except the designers of this website, which is a mobile version.
  22. Typed in gMaps and it found both versions of it as the first results, presented in a pleasing Metro Tiles-like listing.
  23. Clicked the gMaps entry, which is free.
  24. The page loaded.
  25. Clicked the Download for Windows Phone link.
  26. This gave me a native-looking interface with a description about the app, some reviews and the ability to swipe across to other information.
  27. But wait! It’s telling me:

    This application is not available for your device. Press here for more info.

  28. I pressed it and got this native style message box:

    Application not available

    This might be because your phone software needs to be updated, the application is exclusive to a different mobile provider, or the app is not available in your region.

  29. How do I found out which it is? How do I get around this? No clue.
  30. It was dinner time now and a TV show had started, so I abandoned the task and we watched the show.


Resuming the Search for gMaps

The app author’s blog has entries such as got mango? go gMaps 1.12! so technically it should run on this phone.

Clicking the Windows Marketplace link logs me in then redirects to my region. It ends by failing to find the gMaps app, though. Nothing in the search results for gMaps, too.

Elsewhere on the web, articles report gMaps Pro goes Mango with compass support and more so it definitely made it to the Lumia’s general flavour of Windows Phone OS.

Eventually I try looking at the blog homepage of gMaps’ author and right at the top, it explains:

gMaps and gMaps Pro re-branding

Dear gMaps users

gMaps and gMaps Pro were temporary hidden (removed from the Marketplace) due to small re-branding.

Hope you will see refreshed gMaps and gMaps Pro in 1-2 weeks more stable (with fixed settings) and new icon!

Thank you for understanding,
gMaps Team

The date isn’t shown in the design of the blog but the URL says /2012/05/08/ which usually means 8th May 2012. So should just be a matter of time.

Lumia 800: Google Maps? (20th May 2012)

The full Google Maps website on Nokia N900 is viable, if I plan and save the routes with my laptop first. I’ve been yearning for a better solution, like the Google Maps app for iPhone which Fiona uses. You can’t seem to tweak the routes it gives, though, so in that respect the laptop with full website solution is pretty neat.

First Impressions

  1. The normal Maps app and the Nokia Drive app are pre-installed.
  2. Neither seems to offer an easy way to set alternative routes to the first one they suggest.
  3. This limitation makes them unusable to me. As a cyclist, I choose routes which balance distance against fewest and safest junctions.

Full Google Maps Website on Lumia 800

  1. To start with, visit the normal Google Maps website.
  2. This will probably redirect you to the Mobile version, called Places.
  3. This site works but only generates small, static images.
  4. At the bottom of the browser, press the button.
  5. This gives a list of options. Scroll down and click Settings.
  6. Scroll down and change Website preference to Desktop version.
  7. Press the button.
  8. You’re back at the Places page.
  9. Refresh the page.
  10. The resulting page might look broken, with no images displayed and just a list of text links.
  11. Scroll to the bottom and where it says View Google in, click the link called Classic.
  12. For me, That changes the URL to this:
  13. The nomo=1 part probably means “not the mobile site, please” while the ui=maps part is repeating the maps parts earlier in the URL.
  14. Yay!

You can ensure you get the full map experience every time without hacking URLs. When you are on that page, do this:

  1. At the bottom of the browser, press the button.
  2. This gives a list of options. Click Add to Favourites.
  3. Click the OK tick.

To see your Favourites at any time you’re in Windows Explorer, just click the and then click Favourites.

Inflated Bicycle Tyres (20th May 2012)

Working together, Fiona and I managed to pump her upright 3-speeder’s tyres to their recommended 55psi.

My 10-speed racer has Schrader valves which are super fiddly to undo and then do up again. This time I wound the adapter down as far as it would go and the pump stayed on really well. Managed to get the pressure up to around 75psi. Their maximum is 85psi.

The ride is now quite jarring if I don’t spot a bump to rise in advance. But it rolls so smoothly! The tyres really make a big performance difference.

Thinking about getting properly hard dry-weather tyres for the Summer. It’s a lot of money for something that would take a lot of time swapping back and forth if we get prolonged wet weeks, as we have through April and May.

Chelsea FC Win UEFA Champions’ League! (19th May 2012)

Watched the match with my sister and a gaggle of her friends. I had the idea of pushing the pub tables against the wall so we could form 2 rows of chairs in front of the big-screen telly.

It was a raucous but friendly affair. Found myself shouting and cheering like a proper footy fan!

High drama, shared with people I’m close to.

All helped along by gently sipping at a pint of Bulmer’s Apple Cider throughout the evening.

Lumia 800: Vodafone (18th May 2012)

Mum uses Vodafone Family to get unlimited talktime with us for £5 a month. Not sure what contract she’s on so can’t say if it actually works out cheaper. Adding it to my own contract wouldn’t work out, for sure, as I rarely use my phone for talking. Talking, on a phone? That was so 20th Century.

Inserting The SIM

  1. Eventually found the SIM in the plain cardboard box from Phones 4U, in a little plastic wallet with a red card.
  2. I probably missed this due to it looking like a special offer flyer. A case of physical Banner Blindness?
  3. The tabs and flaps at the top of the Lumia 800 now have little numbered labels to explain how they work.
  4. Snapping the Micro-SIM out of it’s card was seriously nerve-racking. It’s a very audible snapping sound!
  5. Loaded it into the phone using the pull-out tray.
  6. Bit confused which side it loaded into so had to RTFM about that.

Transfer My Number

Surely everyone would want to do this? As usual, Vodafone’s site is broken and stupid. It seems the online form for transferring numbers has been broken since 2011.

After quite some time in their ugly search results I found a Keep my number page. But the only links are to e-mail them are the bottom of the entry, offering merely to contact the Customer Services team.

Oh, wait, silly me. That bullet list in the middle? The one where the text is identically styled to normal paragraph text? Yeah, those are links. WHAT?!

Happily it includes a link to Keep your pay as you go number when you move to pay monthly. That’s exactly what I want and at least this form exists. Struggled to find my Vodafone Account Number until I noticed a new introductory e-mail from Vodafone on my latop, which had it.

Weirdly it insisted on both a Town and a County, even though I live in London. London acts as either the town or the county for many addresses here. So I just repeated it in both boxes.

When the form submitted, I got a confirmation page saying the older number was going to be replaced and the new number was going to be “brought in”. It says this will happen on Tuesday 22nd May 2012.

It Worked (22nd May 2012)

Somewhen between 3pm and 5pm today my number switched over. Yay!

Mission Complete (25nd May 2012)

No problems since switching, although billing for the first month is sneakily and complicated.

Mobile Data Not Working (2nd June 2012)

Since I got the phone mobile data hasn’t worked. Today I double-checked Vodafone’s mobile data settings for the Lumia 800 and they are all correct.

So after reading several long and angry threads, mostly by USA customers, it seems the phone gets these settings from the SIM when the phone is first turned on. I hadn’t installed the SIM at that time, since my phone turned itself on while I was giving it the 14-hour first charge recommended by Phones 4U.

So I tried using the Nokia Network Setup app. It found a bunch of providers:

As I’m on a Vodafone Pay Monthly contract for 24 months, I figured the first option was correct. And that was already selected. Well, I pushed it again to be sure.

Then I noticed the + icon at the bottom:

  1. I pushed the + icon.
  2. This displayed an add screen.
  3. Tried setting the Connection name to Vodafone Data but it was 1 character too long.
  4. Tried Vodafone UK and it fit.
  5. Ticked the box called Make this my current APN
  6. Below this is a section called Internet APN
  7. I followed the earlier instructions for setting Vodafone’s mobile data settings for the Lumia 800.
  8. Added the details internet, web and web.
  9. Below that is a section called MMS APN, which I ignored as I don’t use that feature.
  10. Clicked the save icon.
  11. This displayed a warning called NO MMS APN SETTING.
  12. I clicked ok to proceed.
  13. Nothing seemed to happen for a second, then the interminate progress animation started.
  14. It seemed to work, as I was taken back to the network page. At the top, it now said:

    Your phone has been successfully updated with the settings for the operator below.

  15. There were no more confirmation buttons, so I pushed back to the Start screen.

The result? Still no mobile data! WHAT?! The APN settings it gave were the same as I entered from the website. There is no hidden extra thing which this app does beyond that, as far as I can tell.

Received my Nokia Lumia 800 Cyan! (18th May 2012)

Having looked at prices for the past few months, £20.50 per month for 24 months on Vodafone (£492 total) looked like the best deal for the low minutes, texts and data use I’m likely to have. It also lets me stay in the Friends & Family group Mum has on Vodafone.

It’s quite a bright, almost playschool colour. But I much prefer that to boring black, instantly grubby white or girly pink.

Finding the Best Deal

The most excellent Bill Monitor found a great deal, just £20.50 per month for 24 month deal on Vodafone. Sadly the Cyan version had an additional £23.98 up-front cost, as far as I could tell.

That would still have been awesome value compared to my iPhone friends. They tell me it’s around £35 per month most of the time.


Eventually I started filling out the purchase form, linked through from Bill Monitor. One step included giving my current number, which I thought was for technical reasons. Before I finished the purchase, I chickened out and removed the item from my basket.

Not long after that, I was called by one of their operators. She was very chatty, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about mobile phones. After what seemed like an age, she charmed and twisted my arm into making the purchase.

She also found a way to get the Cyan phone without an additional up-front cost, so a better deal that anywhere I could find advertised.

Delivery Attempted

Sadly the delivery worker didn’t seem to ring the right flat. We found a card in the lobby which said they had visited at 8am. But we were both here and our flat definitely didn’t get buzzed.

Collected from Delivery Office

So we rode to the office, taking my passport and a recent bank statement for my ISA.


  1. Letter from Phones 4U says the phone should charge for 14 hours before using it.
  2. Network would be connected within 48 hours of me receiving the phone.

Startup & Setup

  1. Plugged the iPhone style plug into a power socket.
  2. Connected the now standard USB charging lead into the plug and the Lumia.
  3. Within a few minutes it jingled and showed an initial setup screen.
  4. I left it while watching TV and web reading.
  5. Next time I looked it was on a language selection screen, with English (United Kingdom) already selected.
  6. I clicked Next.
  7. Next page told me this:
    SIM error

    The SIM card is missing or invalid. You can still make emergency calls if your mobile operator supports this.

  8. I clicked Close.
  9. I accepted the licence agreement.
  10. It now asked me about how much information it would send to Microsoft. I clicked Custom.
  11. I ticked all 3 options to send the most data and clicked Next.
  12. It then asked me to Choose Time Zone with Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London already selected.
  13. (Wait, no Cardiff?!)
  14. I clicked Next.
  15. Had a ‘surprise and delight moment’ when selecting the date on the Date & Time screen.
  16. Clicked Next.
  17. When placing it on the table I noticed that even these setup screens will switch from portrait orientation into landscape.
  18. It now asks about a Windows Live ID, which I do actually have. Long ago, in the era of .Net Passport, I linked my Project account with their service.
  19. Since the SIM isn’t in it, it obviously wouldn’t be able to connect.
  20. Clicked Previous and skipped the sign-in process.
  21. Next a few pages from Nokia appeared, in the same minimal GUI as the Microsoft ones had.
  22. Clicked Accept to the terms from Nokia.
  23. Arrived at the Start Screen!

Inserting the SIM

See my related entry: Lumia 800: Vodafone.

More Setup

  1. It detected WiFi networks.
  2. I logged into our one.

First Play

See my related entry: Lumia 800: Google Maps?

Non-clickable Links in Texts

The introductory text messages from Vodafone says this:

Hello and welcome to Vodafone. To see some of the great benefits you are entitled to as a Vodafone cutomer, useful advice on getting set up and the support available you, visit our mobi site at:

That link is not clickable! What text contains ccTLDs and TLDs separated by full stops, other than a link? It should be auto-linked, for sure.

So I tried to Forward the text so I could Copy and Paste it. But you can’t select words in the text message!

The Nokia N900 doesn’t make following links from texts easy but at least it is possible.

Uninstall Unwanted Apps

26 items are in the list when swiping right from the Start Screen. A few are unwanted by me, so I touch them and hold to get a sort of context menu. One item says Uninstall so I click that, for each of these apps:

Nothing against these companies, I’ll just never use these features.

Start Screen Spring Clean

Unpinned the following apps, in alphabetical order:

This leaves me with just 4 rows of tiles and that’s great. Sadly the last row is slightly cut off when scrolled right to the top. To see the date at the bottom of the wide Calendar tile, I have to scroll up slighlty.


  1. Turned off Bluetooth.
  2. Turned off Location.
  3. Opened lock+wallpaper.
  4. Increased the Screen times out to 3 minutes.
  5. Clicked on change wallpaper.
  6. Selected Wallpapers.
  7. Selected the solid cyan which matches the case and cover.
  8. Opened speech.
  9. Turned off Play audio confirmations.
  10. Opened find my phone.
  11. It prompts to sign in with my Windows Live ID, which I now do.
  12. It gives a progress animation for a few seconds then dumps me at the Settings list.
  13. find my phone now says connected beneath it. Good, but not obvious.
  14. Opened SIM apps.
  15. This lists the My Vodafone stuff, driven by the new SIM.
  16. I remember my Sharp GX15 had these, too.
  17. Clicked My Vodafone+.
  18. After a second it said:


    Wow! Sorry I asked! I click OK.
  19. Wait, it worked. I have a list of customer support and accounnt manafement tools.
  20. Opened phone update.
  21. Unticked Use my mobile data connection to check for updates.
  22. The text at the bottom of this screen changes to confirm it will only check for updates over WiFi.

E-mail via IMAP

Recently the string of server moves has given me IMAP support on both my e-mail accounts. Works nicely on the N900, after a lot of fiddly setup. (Same as any system, I would think.)

Time to try it on the Lumia 800:

  1. Opened the Settings screen.
  2. Opened email+accounts.
  3. Clicked Add an account.
  4. Clicked Other account as it said POP and IMAP underneath.
  5. Entered my address and the password.
  6. I think it tried to detect the necessary settings but wasn’t able to.
  7. Clicked on Advanced.
  8. Clicked Internet email.
  9. Somehow something I pressed made it switch to system settings. Huh?
  10. Clicking dumped me back at the main list of apps. WHAT?!
  11. So I tried again, this time selecting Advanced setup at the start.
  12. Tyo’d lots of entries multiple times as I worked down the list.
  13. Didn’t have to set any port numbers.


Had a closer look and realised the very first item under Settings is for ringtones+sounds. So I dived in:

  1. First thing, the heading ringtones+sounds doesn’t fit in the portrait orientation. (There’s nothing to the right to swipe to, I tried.)
  2. Unticked a few things under Play a sound for:
    • Key press
    • Lock and unlock
    • Camera shutter

Stop Noisy Reminders (20th May 2012)

  1. In WLM, go to the Calendar area.
  2. In the Ribbon, click Reminders.
  3. This opens a new browser tab with the Windows Live Hotmail page for Calendar options.
  4. Scroll to the section called Turn notifications on or off.
  5. Untick Get notifications (reminders, changes to calendars, and daily summaries).
  6. I also unticked Confirmations.
  7. Scroll down to the end and click Save.

Agenda view is becoming my favourite way to view the calendar on the phone, whether that’s through the Calendar app (Lumia 800 at home yesterday) or through the website (N900 on the train tonight).

USB Charging from Laptop (20th May 2012)

Plugged my Lumia into the laptop using the N900 cable, since it’s standard and was already plugged in. After a few seconds it buzzed to confirm it was charging.

After a minute of HDD churn it gave me a Zune advert. I clicked Cancel to that, since I’d rather try syncing everything online with this new phone.

A few more seconds go past and a balloon tip confirms the drivers are installed and the device is ready to use. I click the balloon before it goes away and see the list of what was installed:

With the Lumia flat on my desk where the N900 has been for the past months, it really is a lot thinner. And the one-piece case looks way neater than the panel gaps and sliding joints of the N900.

App Updates from Market (27th May 2012)

This evening I was going to have a quick look for a clock timer app to help with cooking. My ancient Casio watch finally got through another battery and its stopwatch was a feature I used every day.

When I clicked Market on the Lumia, it has a subtle item on the bottom left saying 6 updates:

  1. I clicked on 6 updates.
  2. It gave me a monochrome list of which apps would be updated.
  3. The app icons seemed to be wrong aligned on the vertical axis, sitting just above the next item rather than neatly alongside their corresponding text.
  4. I clicked updated all at the bottom.
  5. It gave me a huge page of text asking me: Allow access to location?
  6. Only buttons were allow or cancel so I had to click allow.
  7. The screen faded to black with a progress indicator.
  8. It then became a much more colourful list, with an icon on a colour-coded gradient for each app.
  9. Each app got a line of status text below it.
  10. They started getting a status bar, one at a time, from the last one upwards.
  11. When the progress bar completed, that app disappeared.
  12. Left it while I had dinner.
  13. Screen was sleeping when I got back.
  14. Woke it up and slid the wallpaper away.
  15. All it displayed was a MARKETPLACE called downloads.
  16. Couldn’t swipe anywhere so clicked .
  17. Now all it displayed was a MARKETPLACE called updates.
  18. Couldn’t swipe anywhere so clicked .
  19. This returned me to the marketplace, no longer with a 6 updates item.

Lumia 800: Sync WLM Calendar via Hotmail (18th May 2012)

Specifically, this is the rather long solution to syncing offline WLM Calendar with my Windows Live ID.

Windows Live Mail is my favourite e-mail program and it’s become an always-open hub on my laptop. All of my Contacts, Calendar and Messages go through it. However, I created all of these without signing into my rarely-used Windows Live ID.

Now I find that I can’t merge these offline features into the online equivalents. I have to get these online things online so I can sync them with my phone via the Windows Live ID.

I started by opening the People app on the Lumia 800 and it pulled in all my online stuff. Contacts from when I was regularly using Windows Live Messenger and MSN Messenger before that. Originally – and preferrably – this was set up for Windows Messenger, which I liked a lot. Windows seems to have come full circle and returned to those design principles of reducing GUI clutter, which is a very good thing. But I digress…

Sadly there is no official way to put the offline calender online. However, you can manually copy the calendar’s database file.

I had to untick Hide proctected operating system files as well as having already selected Show hidden files, folders, and drives in the Windows Explorer options. So I copied this file:

C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\Calendars\DBStore

I closed WLM, took a deep breath, then pasted it over this one:

C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\Calendars\\DBStore

(I had opened that file in Notepad before replacing it, by using File > Open with the Encoding to Unicode. Searching the file for 200 revealed only 2 dates, both part of a sole entry for one birthday. Despite the file being 2MB big!)

Restarted WLM and…it worked! Yay!

Now the previously offline calendar is shown in:

The new calendar wasn’t appearing on my phone. So as I was impatient I jumped through a few hoops:

  1. Flicked right from the Start Screen.
  2. Clicked Settings.
  3. Clicked email+accounts.
  4. Changed Download new content from manually to as items arrive.
  5. Pressed the tick to confirm.
  6. Was now back on the the email+accounts screen.
  7. The text below the item gave sync progress as it checked everything and brought the new stuff in.
  8. Once it finished I went back to the apps list.
  9. Clicked Calendar.
  10. My previously offline calendar events had now been synchronised. Yay!
  11. Went back through settings and made it hourly now.

Sharing Hotmail Calendar with Friends (4th June 2012)

  1. Went to the Hotmail Calendar website.
  2. Clicked the Share just above the tabs for the calendar.
  3. Clicked the Calendar item.
  4. Selected the option Share this calendar.
  5. This showed lots of options.
  6. Already ticked section was Share you calendar privately with friends and family.
  7. Within that section I clicked the Add people button.
  8. This showed a modal layer in the page.
  9. I started typing Fiona’s name in the unlabelled search box. (It has a magnifying glass as a button – I wonder if that’s another arcaic GUI icon now?)
  10. This filtered the list instantly.
  11. Clicked the entry for Fiona.
  12. The setting Choose how much these people can see and do was already set to View details. (That means read-only in geek speak.)
  13. Clicked the Add button.
  14. This closed the modal layer.
  15. Clicked the Save button.
  16. This showed a modal layer for Sharing confirmation. Ouch, that’s awkward language.
  17. Clicked the OK button.
  18. Briefly displayed a loading… label in the bottom right, then returned me to the normal Hotmail Calendar view.

Security! (14th June 2012)

WLM wouldn’t let me log in. It displayed a message box saying my account may have been compromised and I should click OK to continue.

This immediately looked like a phishing attack:

However, as I was prepared to monitor and kill suspicious processes which might start up, I clicked OK. It opened the Windows Live desktop login window, properly branded. It also opened a Windows Live page in a new tab in my web browser, Firefox.

I went through the process of resetting my account security status. The first run didn’t work but the second run did. This culminated with changing my password and logging in afresh, both in the website and then in WLM.

When I signed out of the website, it told me all the other services I had signed out from:

But it said We couldn’t sign you out of these sites:

Oh, I’ll also have to update the login details on my phone, so it can sync again. Went to Settings > email + accounts and it already said Attention required for the Windows Live item. Clicked it and it gave me a login prompt, already populated. So I deleted the old password, entered the new one and it synchronised right away.

No data was lost and everything is working like normal again, which is a relief. All of this took me about half an hour. (I wrote it up from memory afterwards, rather than during.)

Lumia 800: Sync Contacts with WLM via Hotmail (18th May 2012)

Contacts Transfer

This is an app listed in the long list. It used Bluetooth. Seems neat! Let’s try it out:

  1. Both devices must be on.
  2. The old device must have Bluetooth switched on and set to discoverable.
  3. So I turn on Bluetooth from the N900’s control box, right from the Start Screen.
  4. Lumia 800 screen keeps turning off in the middle of stuff. Will look at lengthening the timeout for it later.
  5. I click Continue on the Lumia.
  6. It shows me a slider and asks me to switch on Bluetooth.
  7. I do so and it immediately starts searching, quickly finding my N900.
  8. After a second it also finds my laptop! Was sure I turned off Bluetooth for this, lol.
  9. I click the N900 item and a dialog appears on it asking to confirm a PIN.
  10. The Lumia 800 is also saying to confirm the PIN is the same.
  11. I confirm both.
  12. Lumia 800 says it was unable to complete the connection.
  13. I try again, confirming both faster this time.
  14. It fails again! It seems they just won’t talk to each other. Another let-down!
  15. Turned off Bluetooth on the N900. (Actually did this hours later since I forgot about it at the time.)
  16. Went back to the Start Screen, swiped to the list of apps, scrolled to the bottom and clicked Settings.

Missing Numbers and E-mail Addresses! (22nd May 2012)

  1. Today my number was transferred so I tried texting my closed contacts to let them know all was well.
  2. I added the contacts by name, never seeing their numbers.
  3. When I sent the message all seemed fine. Again I only see the names, not the numbers.
  4. Seconds later, Fiona’s landline rings.
  5. She answers and is listening for several seconds without speaking.
  6. It dawns on me that the Lumia might have texted her landline. But…all numbers were properly categorised in my Nokia.
  7. She then presses a number so I know for sure that all the above has been for nothing!

Imagine my frustration.

  1. Started looking at Fiona’s contact info in the Lumia.
  2. A few details are there but not her mobile number.
  3. I check the N900 and all the information is there.
  4. Now I check Windows Contacts. Ah, it’s not there!
  5. So I fire up Nokia PC Suite at the details are there.
  6. Numbers categorised as Mobile in the N900 did sync to Windows Contacts.
  7. Numbers categorised as Mobile (Home) did not.

Ah! Maybe this sub-category system isn’t compatible? Windows Contacts has tabs for all these sub-categories though. I need do do this transfer or I’m back to square 1, so I test it:

  1. De-categorise every entry in my Contact Card in N900.
  2. This would fail about half the time: I’d click Save but the display would not update. So I had to edit everything twice in most cases.
  3. Connect N900 to the PC with the USB data cable.
  4. Click on Contacts in the toolbar.

So now to fix all my other contacts:

  1. I de-cateorised every entry for all the contacts in my N900. Yawn.
  2. If a contact had multiple entries for the same type of thing, such as Mobile, I de-categorised one of them and left the rest categorised.
  3. And then used sync in Nokia PC Suite to sync this with Windows Contacts.
  4. Opened WLM and clicked Contacts.
  5. Gave it a minute just in case it was gathering changes from my Windows Live ID.
  6. Clicked on Import in the Ribbon and clicked Address book for current Windows user.
  7. This shows the Windows Live Contacts window.
  8. It told me Import successful. 16 contacts imported.
  9. WHAT?! I updated 35 according to Nokia Suite!

So I opened the Windows Contacts folder, Ctrl+A, Delete.

  1. Went back to Nokia Suite and clicked Contacts. Clicked Sync
  2. It asked me if I wanted to delete all my contacts, as I had deleted them from Windows Contacts.
  3. I told it to Keep them.
  4. I watched it re-create all 60 contact files.
  5. Back to WLM.
  6. Contacts
  7. Import > Address book for current Windows user.
  8. Import successful. 60 contacts imported.
  9. Checked a few contacts which had previously failed.
  10. A few of the missing details had now shown up but other details were missing!
  11. Also, these were 60 additional contacts rather than merging into the existing ones.

WHAT?! How can contacts still be so difficult to manage!

  1. Returned to WLM, Contacts and clicked Clean up contacts in the Ribbon.
  2. This opens a new tab in Firefox.
  3. I wearily trudge through it, merging contacts.
  4. Right at the start it says to merge my Dad’s entry with 3 of my own. My contact card has been triplicated!

This really ruins the pleasure of buying the 2nd most expensive device I own. (My laptop cost £530 while this Lumia on Vodafone will cost £492.)

A minute later I noticed new content was turning up on the People tile on the Start Screen. So I opened it and a bunch of contacts from early in my use of the N900 were now on my Lumia 800! How that happened, I simply don’t know. But after a few minutes I figured it out:

  1. Nokia N900 comes with Nokia PC Suite.
  2. This syncs contacts and everything else from the phone to a proprietary store on the PC.
  3. Contacts in this Nokia software can be passed on to some kind of central Windows Contacts feature.
  4. Somewhen in everything I was doing today I used Import in the WLM contacts while Signed In and it pulled in 47 new contacts.
  5. These must have come via Windows Contacts, originally from my N900!

So now I had a new idea to move the contacts from my phone into WLM while signed in:

  1. Started WLM.
  2. Went to Contacts.
  3. Let it pull in the new data and confirmed the new ones were there. (271 in total, now.)
  4. Clicked the Clean up contacts button in the Ribbon.
  5. This opens a new tab in my web browser with only 3 contacts.
  6. Unticked the 1st item, which was trying to merge my Dad’s entry with my Mum’s since they had the same home phone number.
  7. Edited the merging of the 3rd contact.
  8. Clicked Save and continue.
  9. A new set of 3 merges appeared. Ah-ha! Trying to make a bit task look smaller.
  10. I continued through a few more screens. All were true duplicates but I had to refine the exact merging behaviour for about half of them.
  11. Clicked the final Save button and it was all done.

Now I closed WLM and reconnected my N900 to the laptop:

  1. Selected PC Suite mode on the N900.
  2. Started Nokia Suite on the laptop and waited for it to recognise my phone.
  3. HDD was thrashing a lot so waited for that.
  4. Clicked Sync All.
  5. When it finished, I clicked Contacts to confirm the new names are there, not the old ones when I first started using the N900.
  6. Clicked the Sync menu and selected Sync options.
  7. This opened an Options window.
  8. In that I selected Contacts.
  9. Under the Sync with contacts application I changed it from Do not sync to Windows Contacts.
  10. Clicked OK which closed the Options window.
  11. Clicked on Sync contacts and the progress text confirmed this now includes Windows Contacts.
  12. When it finished it opened a Contacts sync done! window, with these details:
    • 2 contacts deleted from Windows Contacts.
    • 20 contacts were updated to Windows Contacts.
    • 3 contacts were updated to Nokia Suite
    (Missing full stop after the 3rd item is as it was shown, btw.)
  13. Used File > Exit to close Nokia Suite.
  14. Started WLM, signed in and went to Contacts.
  15. Clicked Import in the Ribbon and selected Address book for current Windows user.
  16. This opened a progress window which ended by saying:

    Import successful. 51 contacts imported.

Time to take stock. 307 contacts in total when signed in with WLM. Still not all of them and not all up to date. Hmm.

  1. Used the Start menu of the laptop to search for contacts and opened the Windows Contacts folder.
  2. Deleted the handful of entries whose names were not updating. (The filenames were staying the same, even though the Name field within them was changing.)
  3. Used the Sync Contacts feature in Nokia Suite again.
  4. It noticed a few had been deleted. I told it to Keep them.
  5. This filled in the missing Windows Contacts entries.
  6. Went back to WLM, Contacts, Import > Address book for current Windows user.
  7. Now it imported them the way I wanted.
  8. Went to the Windows Live Contacts website and they weren’t there right away.
  9. Returned to WLM and clicked Clean up contacts.
  10. It opened the website and it found triplicates of most contacts which had been in Windows Contacts.
  11. Once I ironed those out I refreshed the list and the new names were showing for all contacts.

Phew! But not done yet, as I still want my offline WLM contacts to be in the online list so I can synchronise them to my phone.

A bit more searching and I find a suggestion to Import contacts as CSV file into the Windows Live website. They’ll be pushed from there out to WLM when signed in and also to my phone when signed in. Let’s try:

  1. Went to WLM and looked at the Contacts area.
  2. Clicked the down-arrow by my name in the Ribbon and clicked Sign out of Windows Live Mail.
  3. My 307 contacts from Windows Live ID go away and my 293 offline contacts are shown.
  4. I click Export from the Ribbon and selected Comma separated values (.CSV).
  5. Set the file to save into my Windows Contacts folder, just for easier location if needed in the distant future.
  6. Selected all the fields when it asked which I wanted to export.
  7. The progress took a few seconds to get started, then only took about 1 second to complete.
  8. Opened my Windows Contacts folder. The new file was just 25.4kB!
  9. Visit the Windows Live Contacts site.
  10. Click on Manage > Import.
  11. There was no CSV option at the next stage, so I selected Outlook
  12. This gave me the option to select Microsoft Outlook (using CSV).
  13. Used the Browse field to drag-and-drop the newly exported CSV file from my Windows Contacts folder.
  14. Clicked Import Contacts and waited a few seconds.
  15. Success!
    You’ve successfully imported your contacts!
    • 287 new contacts have been added.
    • You’ve updated 2 contact(s)
    • There were 3 duplicate contact(s)
  16. Hmm, surely more duplicates than that?! I clicked the Look for duplicate contacts just below this message.
  17. Sure enough, it found the first batch of 3 and all had early names, going alphabetically. Well, it’s gotta be rationalised sometime and I know this GUI is actually effective and works right.
  18. Plodded through a total of 136 duplicates.
  19. The only ones that needed manual adjustment had different values for the same kind of information, such as multiple phone numbers or multiple e-mail addresses.

Total of 407 entries now in the Windows Live Contacts website. That should be all of them!

  1. Returned to WLM and clicked Sign In.
  2. Switched to the Contacts area.
  3. After barely a couple of seconds, it had updated. 409 contacts in WLM now!

Now I can clear out all the offline entries of my contacts, since they all exist online now:

  1. In WLM I signed out.
  2. Selected the first contact.
  3. Pressed Ctrl+A.
  4. Right-clicked and clicked Delete Contact.
  5. Clicked Yes to the confirmation message box.
  6. Switched to the Calendar area.
  7. It only shows my old offline calendar, now.
  8. Left-clicked Calendar in the left-hand sidebar and clicked Delete.
  9. It wouldn’t let me do that!
    Your primary calendar can’t be deleted

    To delete this calendar, first add a new calendar and set it as your primary calendar. Then delete the old calendar.

  10. So that’s what I did.
  11. From the Ribbon, in the New area, I clicked Calendar.
  12. This displays the Add a Calendar window.
  13. I set the Calendar name to Primary Calendar.
  14. I tick the box to Make this my primary calendar.
  15. I click Save.
  16. Now, again, I left-clicked Calendar in the left-hand sidebar and clicked Delete.
  17. This time it gives me a confirmation message, which I confirm by clicking Delete.
  18. All those events go and I am left with a blank primary calendar called Primary Calendar. Yay!

Now that’s all done I can let WLM sign me in automatically. So I sign in with it again but this time tick the box called Remember me and sign me in automatically.

Syncing Offline WLM Contacts with Online Windows Live ID

The above technique worked so well that I started hunting for a contacts database. Found one in a folder alongside it, rather than inside it. Then some more. After a bit of searching online I found a detailed message for the locations of WLM contacts.edb databases, both for offline and signed-in.

But…how to merge them without data loss? That is the question.

My old pair of calendars remained in the web version when I overwrote the file on my laptop for that online ID. So if I overwrite the file on my laptop for the contacts, the online ones should still exist. If so, then next time it all synchronises:

As the target contacts file was 6MB in size, I copied it from here to my Desktop as a backup:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\\15.5\DBStore\contacts.edb

Now I copy the offline contacts file:

C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\Default\15.5\DBStore\contacts.edb

I exit WLM and and paste the copied file over the target file, the one I had backed up:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\\15.5\DBStore\contacts.edb

Restarted WLM and…disaster! Clicking the Contacts button just gave me a black view without changing the Ribbon! I used the Ribbon to Sign Out and now I could see my offline Contacts, at least. Hmm. Maybe this won’t be so easy.

I closed WLM and copied the backup from my desktop over the target file, restoring it back to how it was before.

Started WLM again and waited for the HDD to stop thrashing. (It usually does that so I wasn’t worried.)

Still Missing Data! (22nd May 2012)

The e-mail addresses were still not showing up for dozens of colleagues from where I used to work. WHAT?!

  1. Rummaged around the App Data folder and found some folders called Backup.
  2. Found a contacts.edb which was 2.02MB while the Default was 2.01MB.
  3. Opened the backup in Notepad, which lagged horribly, then scrolled down to see what it contained.
  4. Found some of the missing e-mail addresses!
  5. Checked and the Modified date was 3 days earlier than the Default, before I deleted them all!
  6. Returned to WLM and signed out.
  7. Closed WLM.
  8. Now I could see the offline contacts list, which was complete empty since I had trusted this stuff to work.
  9. Copied the file from here:
    C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\Default\15.5\DBStore\Backup\new
  10. Copied the file from here:
    C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\Default\15.5\DBStore
  11. Started WLM, with bated breath.
  12. Switched to Contacts.
  13. It’s a blank list. WHAT?!
  14. Closed WLM.
  15. Tried pasting the file here, as well:
    C:\Users\[user name]\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Contacts\Default\DBStore
  16. That file was much older, Modified date was November last year.
  17. Waited for HDD to stop thrashing.
  18. Contacts tells me You have no contacts. WHAT?!

So the information is simply lost. I can’t contact these people to ask what their contact details are, since I don’t have a way to contact them at all! That was it!!

Forensic Science to the Rescue

A web search turned up a result on an answers site: How to restore Windows Live Mail Contacts? At the bottom is a message which says:

To anyone finding this in the future, THIS CAN BE DONE! Use this program - EseDbViewer - to export the file to a CSV file, and then you can import that where ever you want.

Note that you pretty much need the whole file structure containing the edb, not just the edb file.

Hat-tip to @MicrosoftHelps on twitter.

Cool, a free program which will let me grab the data and export a CSV. I can import that into Windows Live Contacts, or directly into WLM.

  1. Downloaded the program to the folder I intend to install it in: C:\Program Files (x86)\EDB File Viewer
  2. Extracted the .zip and all it contained was the .exe.
  3. Double-clicked the .exe and it gave me a setup wizard.
  4. Went through the installer and let it install the Start menu shortcuts directly into the Programs area of the start menu. (Hopefully I’ll remember to uninstall it this way – and that might remind me to clean up some other free tools.)
  5. Clicked Next but it said I had to enter a folder. WHAT?! Don’t you want your program to be super visible? LOL!
  6. Oh, the stupid thing has a naming conflict amongst its own files! The installer is named the same as the program, so it can’t install itself!
  7. I click Abort (surely we’ve moved away from that word in user interfaces by now) and rename the installer.
  8. Try again and it works. Phew.
  9. I double-click the new EseDbViewer.exe and get another error!! WHAT?!

    EseDbViewer.exe – .NET Framework Initialiszation Error

    To run this application, you must first install one of the following versions of the .NET Framework:


    Would you like to download and install .NETFramework,Version=v4.0 now?

  10. I click Yes, just to try and get through the pain.
  11. Instead of downloading the file, it opens a new tab in my web browser with a download page for Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (Web Installer). Urgh. So clunky.
  12. I click DOWNLOAD and get yet another message! What a gauntlet! In essence, it says this:

    May we also suggest

    Here are some additional downloads to enhance your experience with Microsoft products

    • Windows Internet Explorer 9 Enhanced with Bing & MSN
    • Microsoft© Windows© Malicious Software Removal Tool (KB890830)
  13. To its credit both were unticked by default.
  14. I click NEXT.
  15. Firefox asks me where to download it, so I just put it next to the program.
  16. I double-click it and click Run at the security prompt.
  17. This opens the installer.
  18. It provides the licence agreement in formatted text in a box barely 2 lines high. LOL.
  19. I click Install.
  20. It starts downloading the files it needs, then installs them.
  21. I close WLM.
  22. The installer finishes! So I click Finish.
  23. I delete that installer.
  24. I try running EseDbViewer.exe again.
  25. After a few seconds it appears. Crazy inefficient code, to take that long on a modern PC to display an empty user interface with a handful of controls.
  26. From it’s weirdly styled menu I click File > Open.
  27. Copy and Paste the folder path from the Location in Windows Explorer into the File name of the Select ESE file window. (It’s actually looking for *.edb files.)
  28. Click contacts.edb and click Open.
  29. This shows an Open ESE Database window with some options.
  30. I just assume the defaults are OK and press OK.
  31. It gives me an error! WHAT?!

    Error SoftRecoveryOnBackupDatabase

    (JET_errSoftRecoveryonBackupDatabase, Soft recovery is intended on a backup database. Restore should be used instead)

  32. Erm, what’s that supposed to mean?
  33. I try opening some other contacts.edb files and they all fail with the same message. WHAT?!


Rummaging Through The Trash

At this point I remembered the .csv file I exported some days ago.

  1. That will have been deleted when I cleared the Windows Contacts folder.
  2. Of course it’s still in the Recycle Bin. Phew!
  3. So I Restore them and see if they have the missing information.
  4. Yes! The most recent one has the missing e-mail addresses for my colleagues!
  5. Start WLM again and go to Contacts.
  6. Click on Sign in in the Ribbon.
  7. The dropdown list in the login popup remembered my details.
  8. Click on Import in the Ribbon and click Comma separated values (.CSV).
  9. It gives a prompt asking for a file path with a Browse button next to it. Spoilt by web browsers, I dragging and dropping the file to add the file path but that doesn’t work.
  10. I choose the file the old-fashioned way.
  11. All of the fields to import are ticked, so I leave them that way.
  12. I click Finish.
  13. This duplicates pretty much all of my contacts. There are now 746 entries in WLM!
  14. The new ones have the missing e-mail addresses! Phew.
  15. So yet another round of Clean up contacts.
  16. I drink some water and then make a milky coffee to ease the boredom.
  17. I’ve also got my favourite laid-back tunes running to try and balance my music during this whole saga.
  18. It only finds a few duplicates. I check the main Windows Live Contacts page and it only has 394 entries. WHAT?!
  19. I search for one of the colleagues and sure enough, the newly imported contacts haven’t been pushed to the website. Even though I’ve clicked the button specifically to make that happen, so they can all be harmonised.

FAIL. Guess I’ll play some games for an hour or two for the systems (and myself!) to calm down. However, by this time they had left the game lobby so there was nobody to play! ARGH!

Just out of interest I changed a Calendar entry in WLM then check the Hotmail Calendar. The website updated within the time it took me to navigate to it!

Why is the contacts system so messed up?

(I take a moment to uninstall EseDbViewer later that evening, followed by both entries for .NET Framework 4. That required a system restart to finish.)

Looks Better in the Morning (23rd May 2012)

Windows Live Contacts now has 365 and so does WLM! Yay!

Sorting contacts by Company is super handy in WLM. I added the column for that by right-clicking the Name header and clicking Company in the context menu.

After rummaging around trying to turn off Calendar reminders, I found a way to sort my Windows Live Contacts by Company as well:

  1. Visit the Windows Live website.
  2. Click the down arrow next to my name, far top-right of the page.
  3. Click Options
  4. Click Mail from the list on the left.
  5. Under the Customizing your contacts section, click Sorting your contact list.
  6. Click the option called Company (Last, First)
  7. Click Save.

While I was there I filled in some more of the generic information for the Windows Live Profile. Stuff that’s already widespread on the Internet, such as from the Project Cerbera contact page.

Also happened upon the List of all Windows Live Services. Handy!

Lumia 800: Foreca Weather App by Microsoft (18th May 2012)

The N900 has a wide Widget for Foreca Weather which gives a sequence of 7 predictions, each one covering 6 hours. Excellent overview of likely conditions, although the rain and hailstorm forecasting has seemed way off recently.

So I decided to check out the Marketplace for something similar on my Lumia. Perhaps a full-width Tile for the Start screen, like the native Calendar app has?

  1. On the Lumia 800 Start screen, swipe left to the Applications list.
  2. Scroll down a bit and click Marketplace.
  3. Push the search icon, centre bottom of the screen.
  4. Type in weather and press the → button.
  5. The 2nd entry is by Microsoft Corporation. The online Windows Live Calendar uses Foreca as its data provider, so this is probably using Foreca data as well.
  6. Clicked the entry and read the Description.
  7. Swiped leftwards a few times to browse the other information about it.
  8. Decided to give it a try, so clicked Install.
  9. It asked permission to use my location, so I clicked Allow.
  10. I now have a Set Up Account page asking for my Country/Region and date of birth.
  11. I’ve always chosen against adding these to my Windows Live ID, so a bit irked I have to give them now just to get some weather on my Start screen.
  12. I enter the details and click Accept to the terms.
  13. It assigns me the ‘gamertag’: Player639972953. Yuck!
  14. I click Done. But I’m back at the Weather entry, still with an Install button.
  15. I click the Install button again.
  16. Allow access to location again.
  17. Now I’m taken to the Applications list and a progress bar fills in at the bottom, beneath the new Weather app entry.
  18. I press and hold down on it, which shows the context menu. From here I click Pin to Start.
  19. Instead of the Tile going into the one gap in my 4 rows, it starts a new row. D’oh.
  20. I press and hold on the Tile until the screen mode changes.
  21. I drag the Tile to the only empty space in my 4 rows.
  22. I tap an empty part of the screen to confirm the move.
  23. The tile isn’t showing live Weather. Huh? That’s another small let-down.
  24. I tap the app and it asks permission to use my location, again. I allow it, again. (3rd time, overall.)
  25. I set my location by typo’ing nlondon, which it corrects in the suggestion list.
  26. I click the Save icon and it starts to bring in information.
  27. I return to the Start screen but it’s clearly not a Live Tile, just a static tile.
  28. I return to the app and click London, which gives me the detailed views in the gloriously crisp Metro style.
  29. I notice a pin icon at the bottom of this view.
  30. I click the pin and hoorah! It adds a Live Tile for London to my Start screen.
  31. I push and hold on the static Weather tile and Unpin it.
  32. I drag the Live Tile for Weather to the gap.
  33. I click a blank area to confirm the move.

Finally! I have live updating weather on my homescreen. After nosing around a bit more I notice the 2nd page in the London detailed forecast says:

Data provided by Foreca, AIRNow.

Changing my ‘Gamer Tag’ (23rd June 2012)

This is the jargon for the name automatically given to me when I signed up for the Marketplace. You can change your ‘Gamer Tag’ on Xbox’s website.

  1. A box on that page says: Enter your new gamertag
  2. I start by trying Ben Millard.
  3. (Strictly speaking, I guess that should be coded: Ben Millard?)
  4. Clicked Check Availability.
  5. Amazingly it is available! I immediately clicked Claim it!
  6. Success! It tells me: Your gamertag is now Ben Millard
  7. Yay!

Responsive Layout in a Day (17th May 2012)

Responsive layouts, in practice, are still based on arbitrary assumptions about common px widths and how that relates to text size. Just like the fixed-width websites before them.

Having said that, I’ve now applied a single Media Query section within my stylesheet for Project Cerbera and also for Site Surgeon. This simply cordons off the multi-column aspects of the layout for devices narrower than around 800px

Took about 8 hours for each website, as I experimented with Site Surgeon to find how this works in the wild.

You Also Need <meta name="viewport">! (23rd June 2012)

By default, Internet Explorer on Windows Phone assumes every page is 1024px wide. That means a % layout will be laid out across 1024px and then zoomed out, making the text seem miniscule!

To avoid this I had to add the “viewport meta tag” to say “100% means use the pixels you’ve actually got”. A bit annoying and an ugly value syntax but easy enough to add:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width">

IE10 proposed to move this into an @viewport rule, which is even sillier. It should be introduced to CSS4 Media Queries. (CSS3 Media Queries is already a Recommendation and cannot be changed.)

Why Media Queries?

Media Types, the age-old good solution, has been ignored by web authors and UA implementors alike. As with so many good CSS techniques, it was drowned out by medicority and websites authored by control freaks.

Why 800px? It’s an arbitrary threshold based on what produced sensible results in a handful of devices used by myself and the people around me at the time. Which, given past history of new techniques, is probably far better researched than the upcoming mainstream of Responsive websites.

I’ll also take this chance to LOL at all the ‘responsive’ websites which require heavy Javascript libraries to churn through a bunch of tests at every page load, before giving the browser any CSS. These files get cached, sure, but the tests run every time.

Why Media Types are Better

Imagine the 10 most relevant staff at each vendor pairing of mobile device and browser. They can optimise the experience they provide for their millions of users by selecting which of the following 3 profiles best fits the current user’s context and habits:

if the screen is narrow or bandwidth is limited.
if they have a mainstream desktop or laptop amount of space.
if they are in Fullscreen more or being scaled up through a projector.

The vendors (and the device itself) know:

That’s way more than the 2 web developers who would have a say in each typical website build. Those developers would likely think differently each time, swayed by what’s vogue on the ’net and the latest glitzy device (which is usually irrelevant for ~1 year, in my experience).

Even of those web developers which might have the brainpower, few will have the time or budget. They’ll pick the current trend of arbitrary2–5 segments of screen widths. This means each website assumes a different spectrum of devices, resulting in a totally incoherent user experience for users who are browsing multiple websites.

Remember, users spend of their time on other websites. Media Queries remove user choice; if a user gets the layout they didn’t want they are stuck with it. The removal of choice is one of the biggest design failures of the old-school Mobile Web!

Why I Gave Up on Media Types

The devices never really supported them. When portrait, the most sophisticated consumer electronics on general sale today will lay out the navigation menu of a 3-column website into about 3 characters of width. Duh, that ain’t gonna fit.

Like, duh! That ain’t gonna fit! (It bears repeating.)

My Hope for the Future

Internet Explorer on the Lumia 800 has a user setting to prefer Desktop version or Mobile version for websites.

Not quite sure how this works, but that idea does scale to the Web. It also solves fundamental things which CSS alone can’t, such as selecting big or small versions of photos in content.

Let a mobile site have a single column for its main layout, low graphics, with only the most essential content and features.

Let a desktop site be laid out for the typical browser widths on desktops, laptops and other devices with comparable viewing experiences. (Such as larger tablets.)

Hey presto. Each site would need only 2 layouts, decisions about device widths become more harmonious amongst websites due to desktop browser width changing very slolwy over time plus, best of all, users can still switch between the versions.

Forum Laptop User Journeys (12th May 2012)

Much like my Forum Mobile User Journeys from last month. This only covers 1 of my 2 favourite forums at the moment.

(Thinking about it some more, I could use Fraps to record what I actually do.)


  1. Feed showed lots of new posts.
  2. Skimmed the top screenful.
  3. Clicked through to the homepage of the forum.
  4. 10 areas in 3 groups.
  5. 7 areas had new replies.
  6. Opened all but the least interesting area in new tabs.
  7. Opened the least interesting area in current tab.

1st Area: Offtopic

  1. 4 topics had new replies.
  2. Opened the “View first unread post” link to all but the first topic in new tabs.
  3. Opened the first “View first unread post” link in current tab.
  4. Read the most recent entry.
  5. Got confused about the history so scrolled up and saw my most recent message in that topic.
  6. Used Copy-Paste to get some text from the new message.
  7. Scrolled back down and used “Quick Reply” and added my response.
  8. Saw the my most was entered.
  9. Closed this 1st “Offtopic” tab.
  10. Read the most recent message in the 2nd “Offtopic” tab.
  11. Closed the 2nd “Offtopic” tab.
  12. Read the most recent message in the 3rd “Offtopic” tab.
  13. Closed the 3rd “Offtopic” tab.
  14. Kettle had boiled so started cooking vegetables.
  15. Realised it was 12:34pm on Saturday, so turned on TV looking for motorsport.
  16. Read the most recent message in the 4th “Offtopic” tab.
  17. Closed the 4th “Offtopic” tab.

2nd Area: GTA1/GTA2 Chat

  1. 1 topic had new replies.
  2. Opened the 1st topic in the current tab.
  3. Read the topic from the start, as it was short lists of favourite levels for GTA2.
  4. Closed the 1st topic.

3rd Area: GTA1/GTA2 movies, music, images and replays

  1. 1 topic had new replies and seemed to be a new topic, so I opened it from the start in the current tab.
  2. Watched an embedded video in the first message.
  3. Read the other messages.
  4. Closed the 1st topic.

4th Area: GTA2 Game Hunter

  1. 2 topics had new replies.
  2. Opened the 2nd topic in a new tab as it was about errors in a project I’ve contributed code.
  3. Opened the “View first unread post” link for 1st topic in the current tab, as it was 14 pages long.
  4. Read the 1st topic which had 13 new replies, all important and interesting to me.
  5. Clicked one of the links from it to the Game Hunter project.
  6. Used that external website, then closed the tab.
  7. 2nd topic was a poll for which voting had closed, so the results were shown straight away.
  8. Turned out it was an old nonsense thread which had been bumped with a cross-post from the 1st topic.
  9. Closed the 2nd topic.

5th Area: Modding forum

  1. 1 topic has new replies.
  2. Opened “View first unread post” in current tab.
  3. Read all 6 new replies. The 1st one had 2 code samples; 2 others had some quoting of the immediately preceding message. Together, they created a detailed sequential conversation.

6th Area: “Maps

  1. 1 topic had new replies and seemed to be a new topic, so I opened it from the start in the current tab.
  2. Read the 2 messages within it.
  3. Closed the tab.

That was the end of my browsing!

Holiday in Hereford (12th May 2012)

What a great way to get away from it all and become immersed in rolling British countryside! Yesterday we returned and early this morning I dropped off the hire car. Below are the rough notes I made in a draft e-mail on my phone at random intervals.


Saturday 5th to Sunday 6th May 2012:
Parents’ house in Fleet.
Monday 7th to Friday 11th:
Auntie’s holiday home in Hereford.


  1. Had 9 hours in bed so woke naturally before 7am.
  2. Breakfast.
  3. Last gathering of items.
  4. Fiona still had her cold.
  5. Squeezed suitcases around bicycles, wheels could stay on.
  6. Set the Sat-Nav.
  7. Set off near 8:30am.
  8. Fiona navigated while I drove.
  9. From cruising on motorways to reversing back into passing places on single track lanes.
  10. Starting to feel at home in the BMW 520d we hired!?
  11. Arrived at the place and Fiona opened the gates in drizzle.
  12. Generous grassy area in front with rough gravel drive.
  13. Ramps up to the patio door.
  14. Spacious living room. (Photos.)
  15. View from every room over the fields with livestock. (Photos.)
  16. Met the auntie with her husband and 5 of their 6 big, friendly dogs.
  17. Lunch at local pub (relatively!) where youthful staff served me a top quality belly pork and Fiona a goats cheese stack.
  18. Drove to local Tesco, Fiona navigating by iPhone.
  19. Spent ages trying to plot a route back via any phone and the on-board Sat-Nav.
  20. Eventually drove towards Hereford and then went visually by the satelite map mode in the car.
  21. Took some photos of holiday home, car and scenery during a brighter spell. (Photos.)
  22. Passed the time until auntie was making dinner in main cottage.
  23. Long evening with several fantastic courses.
  24. Port at the end.


  1. Woke near 8am.
  2. Auntie had asked to tag along with us to Noakes Farm Riding School.
  3. Was still enthusiastic about going so she drove us there.
  4. Was a big place, several large buildings with 20 horses in total. (Photos.)
  5. Did a few laps around the arena to remind us of the basics, as we’d requested over the phone.
  6. I was riding Comet while Fiona rode Strawberry. (Photos.)
  7. We were led out by charismastic lady with a couple of older girls as tablehands.
  8. Sunny and varied trail, partly along a long-dismantled railway.
  9. Helped take some of the tack into the tack room at the end.
  10. Drove to The Plough Inn where we had lunch in a snug and sunny corner.
  11. Went back to the holiday home to get the BMW and bicycles.
  12. Drove to Pedal A Bike Away centre in the Forest of Dean.
  13. Unloaded bikes while Fiona looked for maps.
  14. Excellent information panels. (Photo.)
  15. Chose a blue graded route called Verderer’s Trail.
  16. Gravel woops from the carpark to the trail set great expectations.
  17. Was a long, fantastic route!
  18. Uphill hairpins with downhill berms.
  19. Went home and made pizza.


  1. Weston’s Cider tour.
  2. Animal pens in a long field.
  3. Intermittent but heavy rain.
  4. Evening meal with auntie and her husband.
  5. Planned where else to go.
  6. Returned to their home to chat and pet the dogs.


  1. Breakfast near 8:30am.
  2. Went out with Ken and dogs at 9:30am.
  3. We did the extended route over a hill and saw 4 deer!
  4. Booked a tour around the Morgan factory.
  5. Enabled GPS on my phone and used Google Maps to do a route.
  6. Saved the route and turned off GPS.
  7. Drove along fun twisty main road.
  8. Stopped at a gastro pub but was closed.
  9. Fiona found anothef called Bluebell, which was large but low. Served one of the smoothest white coffees I’ve ever had! (Although the milk came on the 2nd pass.)
  10. Dessert was a Rocky Mountain Road sunae, which we shared.
  11. Paid cash.
  12. Drove wrong way to Morgan factory.
  13. Did the 2 hour tour for £10.
  14. Started with a slightly rambling presentation, given through Windows Media Player (not in Fullscreen mode!) on a Windows XP laptop.
  15. Tour covered every stage of assembly.
  16. Ended in the museum.
  17. Drove back and parked in just 1 hour! Took a longer route usingA* grade roads as much as possible.
  18. Fiona slumped in chair as cold had taken hold.
  19. I gave her one of the chocolate cake slices as she’d lasted all day.


  1. Later start.
  2. Packing.
  3. Cycle.
  4. Crahs.
  5. Lost.
  6. Found.
  7. Waitrose.
  8. Pizza Express.
  9. Drove home.
  10. Bad route.
  11. Gridlock.
  12. Got home.
  13. Put bikes away.
  14. Toast.
  15. Luggage swapping.


  1. Dropped car at car hire place.
  2. Went to office and they checked the key, then directed me to carpark where an attendent would take the keys.
  3. Led the attendent to where I’d parked the car, out on the street.
  4. He had a look around it and in the boot.
  5. Started engine and briefly checked the fuel guage, agreeing that it was full.


In order of preference:

Packing for Hereford Holiday (4th May 2012)

Tomorrow is the day Fiona and I will be heading to a cousin’s wedding. Afterwards we’ll stay with my parents over the weekend. On Monday we leave them for a cottage owned by one of Fiona’s aunts, where we stay until Friday.

My laptop will be staying safe at home during the trip, although the Nokia N900 is coming along.

We return to London on Saturday 12th May 2012 and that’s the earliest I’ll be gaming.

The next week I’m fully booked for work. A nice quiet week in between now and then.

Hired a BMW 520d (4th May 2012)

Having sold my Nissan Almera 1.6 SVE last year, travelling to holiday destinations is a bit of a mission.

By hiring a posh car for under £300, I could see if they are actually much different while providing a lot more freedom and flexibility for the journeys to, during and from our holiday in Hereford.

Choice of Vehicle



Fuel Economy

58 litres is all it took for the diesel fuel pump to stop. I wedged 2 more into the tank, making it a nice, round 60.00 litres. Quite pleased to get it exact; that almost never happens. That’s all it needed for the entire round trip!

SixT sent a letter to us summarising the car hire, all the charges and included the distance. We travelled 549 miles in total.

Google’s search box can act as a fairly natural calculator, if you give it the right magic words: 60 litres / 550 miles in mpg = 34.7 miles per gallon.

Bearing in mind:

Pretty good going!