Dave Beauvais

Professional geek, avid cyclist, and nature lover

International marketing done well

Optimising for the 0.33% is a really fascinating examination of the attention to detail that Apple brings to their international marketing. It highlights the differences between the United States and Australian marketing for the new iPhone and iOS 8. The subtle differences that make the product feel "right" to customers in the non-US market are really pretty impressive; it goes way deeper than "color" vs. "colour".

A Conference Call in Real Life

"A Conference Call in Real Life" is a hilarious depiction of what meetings would be like if a conference call occurred in real life. It's probably the funniest thing I've seen online in weeks. I've experienced everything depicted in this video at least once during conference calls or online training. Fun stuff!

Building a new web site

I'm starting off 2014 by building a new web site. Some content from my crappy old one has been moved over, but for the most part this is a fresh start. The intent is to put my content out there where I have control over it rather than having it live exclusively inside Facebook or Twitter. We'll see how this works out.

There are some photo galleries which are currently empty, but I'll add photos over the coming days.

Migrating Gmail Contacts to Outlook.com

For various reasons, I’ve been working on moving away from Gmail and other Google services. While Microsoft’s Outlook.com service is in many ways less powerful than Gmail, I find its user interface to be refreshingly clean and simple. I am also switching smartphone platforms from Android to Windows Phone 8, which is another reason for this sudden interest in Microsoft’s services.

Microsoft makes it possible to link your Google account to Outlook.com so you don’t have to deal with importing or manually creating all your contacts, but I prefer to have them in Outlook.com natively so that I’m less reliant on Google. So I set about exporting my contacts from Gmail and importing them via CSV file into Outlook.com.

What I discovered is that not all data makes it through this process. Sometimes that’s because Outlook.com doesn’t import the data; sometimes it’s because Gmail didn’t export it in the first place. The first missing data that I noticed was my contacts’ anniversaries. A quick search revealed that I’m not alone.

So I setup an experiment to determine which fields are not imported, which Google contact fields map to which Outlook.com fields, and any other problems which may come up. I created a new Google contact and populated every possible field that is available, but did not create any custom fields. Google allows you to add more than one entry of the same type (“Work”, “Home”, etc.) so I did that for my test contact.

This table summarizes my findings. Significant issues that could cause missing data in Outlook.com are noted in bold.

[Note: I recently moved to a different web platform, which -- amazingly -- does not allow the creation of HTML tables, so I don't have a good way to represent this information at present.]

I also found a few contacts which didn’t have the correct postal address formatting after the import. Looking at the source data in Gmail, I found that the entire mailing address for a few contacts was contained in the “Street” field. Using the CSV file, I was able to identify the contacts with this invalid data and corrected them.

All of this prompted me to finally go through all my contacts and do some desperately needed housekeeping. I deleted about 40 contacts for people I will never need to contact, made sure field names are set properly, fixed obsolete data in cases where I knew something had changed, and so on.

I now have a very tidy contact list in Outlook.com. A couple entries are missing some phone numbers, but in most cases those extra numbers were in the contacts for caller ID purposes on my phone, and are not a significant loss.

Update on 2013-10-16: I found that the CSV import does not maintain the type of e-mail address. Outlook.com seems to assign the following type to e-mail addresses, regardless of their type in the source Gmail contacts: Personal, Work, Other. So if I have a contact that has a single “Work” e-mail address in Gmail, when that contact is imported in Outlook.com its e-mail address is labeled “Personal”. This is a little annoying out of principle, but not the end of the world, I suppose.

Palm Treo Pro screen protectors

If anyone reading this has a new Palm Treo Pro and can’t wait for companies to make screen protectors for it, I stumbled upon a temporary solution. The Treo Pro's screen is physically the same size as the Treo 700w/700wx, even though its resolution is higher. I had one Pocket PC Techs WriteShield protector left over from my old Treo 700w and it fits perfectly over the Treo Pro's screen, including most of the silver trim around it. Sadly, the corners don't make a perfect seal against the surface, so dust is likely to collect around the edges after a day or two. (Especially if I carry the device in my pocket, as I'd prefer to do.) This should tide me over until something better comes along, though. (The joys of early adoption.)

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Treo Pro screen protector: Bottom right corner view

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Treo Pro Screen Protector: Side edge view

As an aside, I'm really liking the Treo Pro a lot. The BlackJack II is a great phone, but I didn't realize how much I'd miss the touchscreen. The Treo Pro is great on many levels: very thin, hardware keyboard, and touchscreen. And the Opera Mobile 9.5 beta, which didn't work on Windows Mobile Standard, actually makes Web browsing enjoyable again.

I do wish mobile device companies would back off the current trend of making everything glossy, though. Not only is this thing (and the BlackJack II, for that matter) a fingerprint magnet, it feels as if it’s going to slip out of my hands. I may get an Invisible Shield for the back just to make it less slippery in my hand. I can't see using that with a stylus, though, given the tacky, slightly rubbery feel.

Music from the Apple MacBook Air commercial

When I first saw the MacBook Air commercial on TV it wasn’t the notebook I was paying attention to, but the music. It seems I wasn’t alone as this post from the PromoGuy.net site reveals the identity of the artist and the song as Yael Naim's New Soul. There’s also a link in the article to the album on iTunes if you’re into that.

Yael's Web site links to the following video, which I hope means it won’t get yanked due to copyright violation.

Solution for Windows Mobile reminders that won’t dismiss

Back in February I posted about a problem I was having with my XV6700 which was preventing me from dismissing most reminders. In March I found a solution to the problem which did not require hard resetting the device. I used the device for all of March and April and never had a single problem so I feel comfortable posting about it here as a possible solution for others having the same problem.

The solution I found was to disable automatic time synchronization with the cellular network. Apparently every time the PDA is powered up it syncs the time with the network and that process causes an occasional hiccup if a reminder is what woke up the device rather than the user pressing the power button. Disabling the time sync feature has completely eliminated the problem I was having where I could not dismiss reminders and the reminder sound continued to play over and over until I soft reset.

Here is how to disable the time sync feature:

Tap Start, Settings, and tap the “Phone” icon on the Personal tab.

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Tap the Services tab and scroll down in the list to “Time Synchronization.” Select that item then tap the “Get Settings…” button.

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Uncheck the box labeled “Time synchronize with mobile network automatically.” Note that you can always come back to this dialog any time and manually sync by tapping the “Update Now” button.

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After doing this, my reminder problems disappeared completely and my XV6700 has been problem-free for over two months! I don’t know if a similar fix is available for other models. Please report back if you have any luck with models other than the XV6700.

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