So this is what I've been waiting years for. A device the same size as my XDA Mini S, that has a VGA screen. I was meaning to blog about this on Tuesday when HTC made the announcement, but things got in the way.
My Mini S is feeling pretty dated now, over two years old now, I upgraded it to Windows Mobile 6.1 a couple of months ago, been over-clocking it to try and keep it fresh, but I've been itching to update it, the XDA Stellar caught my eye, but it still has a QVGA screen as have all the 2.8 inch size devices - until now that is.
So Tuesday, HTC announced the Touch Diamond, the successor to their Touch from last year.
Demonstration of the TouchFLO 3D interface:
Very swish, although I have to say I'm a little concerned about the performance of this interface. Like the previous version of TouchFLO found in the HTC Touch, XDA Orbit II and others it essentially acts as a replacement Today screen and if it isn't faster than using the standard Windows Mobile interface it seems kind of pointless for power users. I've played with TouchFLO, no longer in my current ROM (takes up a few MB storage wise), and of course PointUI but haven't kept it. Hopefully this runs good enough to act as a real replacement.
Anyway let's get to the important stuff, the hardware in this machine.
- Processor Qualcomm® MSM7201A™ 528 MHz
- Operating System Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
- Display 2.8-inch TFT-LCD flat touch-sensitive screen with VGA resolution
- ROM: 256 MB
- RAM: 192 MB DDR SDRAM
- Internal storage: 4 GB
- Dimensions 102 mm (L) X 51 mm (W) X 11.5 mm (T)
- Weight 110 g (with battery)
And then all the usual stuff we've seen in devices over the last year GPS, 3G (7.2Mbps). I have to say these specs to impress me, a 528Mhz CPU is never found in these small Pocket PC phones, a whopping 192MB of RAM just seems insane and of course the VGA screen, that's something like 240 DPI and blows everything else out of the water.
Windows Mobile 6.1 is welcome, there's always the fear they'd stick 6 on the device. It has a non-telescopic stylus! They're bundling Opera 9.5 on it, that's good I typically use Opera 8 for most web browsing on my Mini S (although 8 is still lacking in many areas). A lot of the Google fans were expecting HTC to announce a phone with Android on it - get real nobody cares about Android, Windows Mobile = Doom and Quake and thousands of other Windows Mobile applications. ;)
It's got a few bad points, a shiny (read: fingerprint-magnet) surface, I'm hoping O2 will get rid of that, assuming the carriers will have as much range of customisation as HTC's other phones. It also lacks a memory card slot, instead relying on the built in storage, OK fair enough but they said adding a memory card slot would stick an extra 2mm on the depth of the thing. It also doesn't have a standard Mini-USB port, instead its those Mini-USB ports that are slightly different shaped to send audio out to headphones - I'm sure that will annoy me at some point. (Update: although it doesn't have a regular mini-USB port it is completely compatible).
Anyway, despite my love of this device, I'm not getting this one. I'm waiting for the HTC Raphael. Same basic thing only with a slide out qwerty keyboard, like my Mini S. Rumour has it, it will feature a memory card slot, and lose its built in storage, and get a bit fatter due to the keyboard but other than that will be identical.
Granted I mainly use the on-screen keyboard on my Mini S, but I find myself making too many mistakes if I'm moving around, on the bus its unusable, on the train it makes it too slow to correct the mistakes with the on-screen keyboard, so its good to have a physical qwerty keyboard there ready, or if you need to hammer out something quite long.
The Diamond will be available next month on the five main carriers in the UK, North America has to wait until Q3 or Q4 this year. I'm hoping the Raphael won't be too far behind, and that O2 will be able to keep the things in stock.
Although things look pretty gloomy - at least for the New Labourites, in Venezuela we continue to make progress.
This May Day the minimum wage was increased 30% in Venezuela, and not only that but public sector wages were also increased 30%. Taking into account the food subsidies, this will mean the minimum wage in Venezuela will be twice that of the average wage in Latin America.
It also seems that the six hour working day is back on the agenda (which was packaged with last years' defeated constitutional reforms). This is a critical step that must be taken if the workers are going to manage production themselves.
I'm also pleased to see the reactionaries only managed to bring out about 1000 people on their demonstration against the increases to the minimum wage, pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of workers out on the streets that day.
Nationally the share of the vote looked like this:
In London, with a socialist candidate the share of the vote looked like this:
Grimmer mentions their candidate, Janet Oosthuysen, falling short of ousting the Lib Dems by 53 votes, they campaigned on a slogan of "Vote Labour - Get a Socialist".
I think there is a message here for the Labour Party and somewhere in it is the 'S' word.
The whole angle of the post on Slashdot is trying to make it seem that UAC doesn't do anything and is worthless, the iReboot developers certainly have that angle too, in what I'm sure some would call a childish tirade.
iReboot is an application that sits in the tray, and allows you to select an OS you want to reboot into. It does this by changing the boot loader so the OS you selected is the default and then rebooting the machine.
To modify the boot loader, you obviously need administrative privileges, this is a system-wide change and wrongly altered can render the system unbootable.
On Windows XP the iReboot application required you to be logged in as an administrator, for obvious reasons (standard users not having the rights to change the boot loader).
On Windows Vista, iReboot would also require administrative privileges to work. With UAC, even users logged in as administrators have their applications run as standard users, which is why applications need to elevate to run as administrators.
The developer goes on to write:
But there was one flaw in iReboot that made all the hard work we put into making it as unobtrusive and minimalistic as possible almost meaningless: if you had UAC enabled, iReboot will not run automatically at startup, no matter what you do.
iReboot could run automatically at startup with UAC enabled, the developer doesn't seem to be aware that you can write an application to ask for elevation. His application didn't - and so it just fails. Like it should. Obviously automatically starting an application and asking for elevation isn't a very good experience, which is why it shouldn't be done this way either.
I'm sure you all know that the Windows NT line (and other modern operating systems) has had the concept of "services". It seems the developer had to do some "digging around" for solutions, come on, any Windows geek knows how services work, this guy actually had to do research?
Services are usually started automatically by the system, for example the time service which goes out to the internet and corrects the time on your system. Changing the time requires administrative privileges, and as such the time service runs with administrative privileges. The same can be said about the 50 or so other services that run on the system.
He goes on to say:
only possible fix would be to split iReboot into two parts. One would run in the background as a service, running under the SYSTEM or LOCAL SERVICE accounts and having privileged access to the OS without requiring admin approval or UAC elevation, and with the second half running as an unprivileged userspace client program which interacts with the service backend to get stuff done.
This is also how it should be done on Windows XP, 2000 etc so that your application would work on standard user accounts, but it seems he doesn't care about standard users on Windows XP where he says "everyone runs as an Administrator", which isn't quite true. Others and myself have long tried to get people running as standard users on Windows XP, it is thanks to developers like this that kept people from running as standard users and greatly reduced the security of the world's computer base.
The developer then goes onto complain about how long all this took:
[G]etting this far wasn't easy. With Windows Vista, what should have been 100 lines of code maximum ended up being a dozen times longer, split across two different processes, and requiring way too much man-hours to write the most minimalist and to-the-point piece of software we've released to date.
Of course if the guy had bothered to look at the development guidelines and documentation that is almost a decade old now he would of seen this is how his application should of been written in the first place. Instead of him assuming he will have administrative rights forever, Microsoft have been hammering on about testing your applications as standard users for years and years before Windows Vista shipped, it isn't like they just pulled this out of the bag.
The developer then makes one final stab at UAC:
Perhaps most importantly though, is the fact that Windows Vista's newly-implemented security limitations are artificial at best, easy to code around, and only there to give the impression of security [his emphasis]. Any program that UAC blocks from starting up "for good security reasons" can be coded to work around these limitations with (relative) ease. The "architectural redesign" of Vista's security framework isn't so much a rebuilt system as much as it is a makeover, intended to give the false impression of a more secure OS.
Essentially claiming that UAC is worthless and can be coded around (by using services), which is false because in order for you to install that service in the first place you must elevate the installer, else it cannot create or modify the service.
Just today a new exploit was discovered in QuickTime (yes another one), with UAC enabled the exploit doesn't work. Because QuickTime isn't running as an administrator, but only as a standard user. Just another example of how UAC just gives the "impression" of security.
Out in the technical communities I still see a lot of people telling people to use msconfig (Microsoft System Configuration Utility) to stop applications running on startup with Windows.
Now this was a fine tool - back in the old days (it first shipped with Windows 98), but it hasn't changed much since then and is geared towards technical users.
Windows Defender is often overlooked as being a simple anti-spyware application. But it has some great features which surpass a lot of the functionality that msconfig was often used for.
The Software Explorer is one of them, you can find it under Tools. It offers a few different options from the drop down menu, startup programs, which allows you to see and block any specific applications from starting with the system.
Although a common source of confusion for non-technical users is the 'Show for all users' button, which is required to make any system-wide changes (most applications set themselves to startup system-wide). So you often need to elevate using that button to make any changes, else the buttons are greyed out. I think that needs to be made more clear, or Defender needs to ask for elevation automatically upon starting the Software Explorer.
It also let's you see currently running programs, and also programs that are connected to the network (you previously had to go to the command line to check that), and also to which addresses they are connected.
What would I like to see done to Defender in future versions?
Consider moving the Software Explorer function out and having it as a standalone application, and put it under Programs in the Control Panel, although it does have a sub-option (View currently running programs) under Defender I think it is worthy of its own entry. Also put a shortcut in the System Tools folder in the Start Menu.
In addition I'd like to see Windows Defender move on to provide basic anti-virus. Windows Defender is already the best anti-spyware application out there in my opinion, it doesn't put icons in the tray, it doesn't launch loads of junk on startup and it doesn't pop up nagging you about things, with definition updates installed automatically over Windows Update is great.
This is really something where Microsoft are out in front of the pack (except with Windows Live Messenger), other software developers write software that tries to take over half your computer and load dozens of applications at startup slowing everything down, instead of getting out of the way and letting you get on with things. No doubt Microsoft would face an anti-trust investigation for bundling anti-virus with Windows (may be they could make it a downloadable plug-in), but it would be worth it for the end-user experience.
No doubt people will mention OneCare, but OneCare is a heavy all-in-one application suite, I don't see the point in having a firewall, anti-spyware etc when that stuff is already built into the system. Let OneCare be the heavy security suite, let Defender be the minimalistic simple low resource anti-malware application that it could be.