Cell Tower Rejection?

I make business trips to Scottsdale, Arizona about once ever two – three months.  When I came to Scottsdale on Monday I brought my AT&T Tilt (HTC TyTn II) with me.  This is the first 3G phone that I’ve owned.  The phone has been fitting my needs well for the past couple of months.  Before I got on the plane to Arizona I made a few phone calls, turned off the phone, and boarded the plane.  After landing my coworker and I caught a taxi to the hotel and I called home to let my family know that I had safely arrived.

Some time later I was looking at my phone and noticed it was searching for a signal.  It found one and showed 5 bars for about 15 seconds then went back to looking for a signal.  I watched it do this for about 30 minutes writing writing down the times the device went from having a tower fix to searching for a tower. It would get a fix 15 seconds after the devices clock changed to a time that had an even number for minutes.  In this state the device was almost useless; I could send a SMS as long as it was sent during this 20 second window, but I could do nothing more.

I spoke with AT&T and a representative told me the problem was with my SIM card and that the 64k AT&T SIM cards could not be used in 3G devices.  Not quite believing this I removed the SIM from the 3G data card for my laptop and saw it used the same type of SIM card.  I swapped the SIMs and found that the problem followed the phone and not the SIM.  After a lot of web research I found other customers that had experienced the same problem and some one pointed out that the problem was specific to phones acting in 3G mode. The theory was that some phones were being inexplicably rejected by some towers in 3G mode.

After hearing that I began searching for programs that I could use to disable the 3G mode in my phone and stubled on something I had seen a few weeks ago but had ignored. It is called CommMgrPro. I used the program to disable 3G mode depending on what tower the phone was connected to it afterwards I was able to make phone calls again.  I don’t have confidence in the theory I received from the AT&T rep about the problem being caused by the type of SIM card that I am using.  I can’t completely accept compromising the functionality of my phone as a solution to the problem.  I’ve forwarded the information I have on the problem to Mickey at The Cell Phone Junkie (http://thecellphonejunkie.com). He will be recording his next podcast on Sunday night and hopefully he will be able to give insight to the problem with his podcast is made available on Monday morning.


Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, Apple’s iPhone, and RIM’s Blackberry

In the past week I’ve seen several post on the MSDN Smart Device forums asking essentially the same question.  Some one has developed (or will develop) a program for one platform (Windows Mobile, Blackberry, iPhone) and wants to make the program run on the other.  I’ve answered the questions as I’ve encountered them, but since it is a frequent question I decided to write a post about it so that I can refer people back to an answer as the question comes up.

What is a Platform?

A platform is a collection of functionality along with the methods for accessing that functionality provided to support an application. Traditionally platforms have been viewed as a combination of hardware and software; a software application would require a certain software platform (the operating system) running on a certain hardware platform (the physical computer with a certain processor).  While that definition is still applicable presently we also have what would be considered pure software platforms; a developer targeting a browser can target a specific web standard as their platform with little to no concern for the hardware on which it is run.  It is important to also note that platforms can be layered; one platform can exists on top of another. For mobile devices I can name 5 platforms; Windows Mobile, iPhone OS X, Blackberry, Android, and Symbian.  As I type this

How do I make this program developed on platform X run on platform Y.

Unfortunately in most cases the answer to this question is “you don’t.”  You will need to rewrite your application for the other platforms on which you need for it to run. What’s the workaround for this?  Well, as I mentioned in my definition for a platform, “platforms can be layered; one platform can exists on top of another.”  If you have two dissimilar platforms and if those two platforms can support the same software platform then you can target that common platform and end up with a single application that runs on multiple platforms.

Web browsers are going to be the most common platform that you can target.  But browser applications have their limitations (those limitations are diminishing).  The two most populate virtual machine platforms are .Net and Java, but you will find that presently different devices have different levels of support for these two platforms.

So What are you Saying

After reading the above you should be able to infer what I am about to conclude.  IF you need to run a single application for multiple platforms make it a web app and adapt it to the browsers (or browser standards) that you wish to support.  If it absolutely has to be a native application then you will not be able to create a single application that runs on Windows Mobile, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry, and OS X.



.Net Micro Framework Development Board

The Windows Embeded Blog had a post about a .Net Micro framework development solution that cost under 100.00 USD. For the pricepoint and the functionality this is an incredible package!  I may have to pull out my notebooks for some of the automotive projects I wanted to do (I had been considering a Windows CE device for those projects but I think this package should be more than adaquate).  If you are interested you can grab one of these from GHI Electronics.

Update [2008-09-18 23:20 UTC] – feeling that this is such a power product I’ve already submitted an order for one for myself.


New Tilt Firmware Buggy?

The Tilt firmware update was welcomed with open arms.  I installed it, and after a few failed attempts I figured out how to prevent the bloatware from installing.   But the 6.1 firmware for the Tilt is not working as well as I had hoped.  The most annoying problem is that if the device is suspended for more than a certain amount of time upon turning it on the device turns off again.  I just found out that I am not the only one experiencing problems.  Over at Tilt Site (a subsite of the Mobility Site) users are reporting many of the same problems that I have experienced since the upgrade.  I’m not optimistic that another firmware update is forthcoming since AT&T must approve all firmware updates and they are planning to EOL (End of Life) the device. I may end up returning to the previous Windows Mobile 6.0 firmware image (so long threaded messages).


What Tools do I Need to Develop for Windows Mobile?

Several times in the past two weeks I’ve seen users on the MSDN forum ask what software tools are needed to develop for Windows Mobile.   It’s possible to develop for Windows Mobile devices using the .Net Compact Framework SDK and the command line compiler.  I would never suggest that some one do that; IDEs provide a much better debugging and development experience. The chart collowing this paragraph will let you know what versions of Visual Studio that you can use for each Windows Mobile and .Net version.  Note that no Visual Studio express version is lited here.

Visual Studio Version Supported Windows Mobile Versions
Visual Studio .Net 2003 Supports .Net Compact Framework 1.0 for Pocket PC 2002 and Windows Mobile 2003
Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition or Better .Net 1.0 and .Net 2.0 from Windows Mobile 2003 to Windows Mobile 6
Visual Studio 2008 Professional .Net 2.0 and 3.5 from Windows Mobile 5 to Windows Mobile 6

Programs that you cannot presently use for Windows Mobile development include the express editions of Visual Studio and Visual Studio 2008 Standard.