Gumby

Thoughts from the clay guru.

4 digit 7 segment LED display from American Science and Surplus

I just bought a 4 digit 7 segment LED display from American Science and Surplus for only $1.25 USD, with the intent of using in an Arduino project.  I was not able to find any documentation on it.  The only information I had that written on the side was a Part Number 61170 and something that looked like a company logo with the letters FSP.

So I decided to try and map out the pins myself.  From my research, I discovered the following:

ASS LED

And using a version of code at: http://www.hobbytronics.co.uk/arduino-4digit-7segment, I was able to get the display working.  I had to make a few minor changes, and here is my version.

</pre>
/*

6-13-2011
Spark Fun Electronics 2011
Nathan Seidle

This code is public domain but you buy me a beer if you use this and we meet
someday (Beerware license).

4 digit 7 segment display:
http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9483
Datasheet:
http://www.sparkfun.com/datasheets/Components/LED/7-Segment/YSD-439AR6B-35.pdf

This is an example of how to drive a 7 segment LED display from an ATmega
without the use of current limiting resistors. This technique is very common
but requires some knowledge of electronics - you do run the risk of dumping
too much current through the segments and burning out parts of the display.
If you use the stock code you should be ok, but be careful editing the
brightness values.

This code should work with all colors (red, blue, yellow, green) but the
brightness will vary from one color to the next because the forward voltage
drop of each color is different. This code was written and calibrated for the
red color.

This code will work with most Arduinos but you may want to re-route some of
the pins.

7 segments
4 digits
1 colon
=
12 pins required for full control

Updated 7/19/2013 by Michael Gombar
- minor tweeks to support 4 digit 7 segment display from American Science and Surplus

*/

int digit1 = 11; //PWM Display pin 1
int digit2 = 10; //PWM Display pin 2
int digit3 = 9; //PWM Display pin 6
int digit4 = 6; //PWM Display pin 8

//Pin mapping from Arduino to the ATmega DIP28 if you need it
//http://www.arduino.cc/en/Hacking/PinMapping
int segA = A1; //Display pin 14
int segB = 3; //Display pin 16
int segC = 4; //Display pin 13
int segD = 5; //Display pin 3
int segE = A0; //Display pin 5
int segF = 7; //Display pin 11
int segG = 8; //Display pin 15

void setup() {
pinMode(segA, OUTPUT);
pinMode(segB, OUTPUT);
pinMode(segC, OUTPUT);
pinMode(segD, OUTPUT);
pinMode(segE, OUTPUT);
pinMode(segF, OUTPUT);
pinMode(segG, OUTPUT);

pinMode(digit1, OUTPUT);
pinMode(digit2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(digit3, OUTPUT);
pinMode(digit4, OUTPUT);

pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
}

void loop() {

//long startTime = millis();

displayNumber(millis()/1000);

//while( (millis() - startTime) < 2000) {
//displayNumber(1217);
//}
//delay(1000);
}

//Given a number, we display 10:22
//After running through the 4 numbers, the display is left turned off

//Display brightness
//Each digit is on for a certain amount of microseconds
//Then it is off until we have reached a total of 20ms for the function call
//Let's assume each digit is on for 1000us
//Each digit is on for 1ms, there are 4 digits, so the display is off for 16ms.
//That's a ratio of 1ms to 16ms or 6.25% on time (PWM).
//Let's define a variable called brightness that varies from:
//5000 blindingly bright (15.7mA current draw per digit)
//2000 shockingly bright (11.4mA current draw per digit)
//1000 pretty bright (5.9mA)
//500 normal (3mA)
//200 dim but readable (1.4mA)
//50 dim but readable (0.56mA)
//5 dim but readable (0.31mA)
//1 dim but readable in dark (0.28mA)

void displayNumber(int toDisplay) {
#define DISPLAY_BRIGHTNESS 2000

#define DIGIT_ON LOW
#define DIGIT_OFF HIGH

long beginTime = millis();

for(int digit = 4 ; digit > 0 ; digit--) {

//Turn on a digit for a short amount of time
switch(digit) {
case 1:
digitalWrite(digit1, DIGIT_ON);
break;
case 2:
digitalWrite(digit2, DIGIT_ON);
break;
          case 3:
             digitalWrite(digit3, DIGIT_ON);
             break;
          case 4:
             digitalWrite(digit4, DIGIT_ON);
             break;
          }

//Turn on the right segments for this digit
lightNumber(toDisplay % 10);
toDisplay /= 10;

delayMicroseconds(DISPLAY_BRIGHTNESS);
//Display digit for fraction of a second (1us to 5000us, 500 is pretty good)

//Turn off all segments
lightNumber(10);

//Turn off all digits
digitalWrite(digit1, DIGIT_OFF);
digitalWrite(digit2, DIGIT_OFF);
digitalWrite(digit3, DIGIT_OFF);
digitalWrite(digit4, DIGIT_OFF);
}

while( (millis() - beginTime) < 10) ;
//Wait for 20ms to pass before we paint the display again
}

//Given a number, turns on those segments
//If number == 10, then turn off number
void lightNumber(int numberToDisplay) {

#define SEGMENT_ON HIGH
#define SEGMENT_OFF LOW

switch (numberToDisplay){
case 0:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_OFF);
break;

case 1:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_OFF);
          break;

case 2:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
break;

case 3:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
          break;

case 4:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
          break;

case 5:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
          break;

case 6:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
          break;

case 7:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_OFF);
          break;

case 8:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
          break;

case 9:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_ON);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_ON);
          break;

case 10:
          digitalWrite(segA, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segB, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segC, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segD, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segE, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segF, SEGMENT_OFF);
          digitalWrite(segG, SEGMENT_OFF);
          break;
}
}
<span style="font-family: Consolas, Monaco, monospace; font-size: 12px; line-height: 18px;">

For only a $1.25….I am going to buy a few more of these to mess around with.

Oh, one more thing.  I should warn you that the spacing for the pins is not typical for breadboards, so be ready to solder in some jumper wires.

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Microsoft Windows Phone Reboot rebuttal

I just read the blog: Editorial – Microsoft hits the “reboot” switch again. I’m utterly disgusted

It’s not just this blogger, but a number of people up in arms about the recently announced Windows Phone 8.  Now I am one of those folks with a relatively new Nokia 900.  I was hopeful that I would get the new Windows Phone 8 OS at some time, but I am not “disgusted”.  Microsoft at least tried to bring some of the new UI elements from the Start screen over in the Windows Phone 7.8 version…but how can we expect them to completely support a new core and feature set?

For those of you upset or even disgusted, can you tell me how this is any different than Google and their Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade that will not be on most phones…even those selling today?  Or what about every time Apple released a new major OS version…they drop support for some phones…you even may have bought just a year earlier?  I think there is an expectation for Microsoft to provide backwards compatibility for devices 5-10 years old….like they do on the PC.  I think that is a little unrealistic in the mobile phone market.

It seems like everyone, from the hardware manufacturers, the cellular providers and the OS providers that we are on a 2 year cycle for devices.   Yes, I just bought the Nokia 900 a few months ago, but Microsoft is not dropping support.  All current apps and most future apps (except native C++ apps) will still run on my OS…and they are putting in those features that are supported by the hardware.  And I can be pretty sure that AT&T, in about 12 months, will offer to let me get the latest and greatest new devices for a reasonable price (if I sign up for 2 more years).

What are your thoughts?  Is this any different than what Google does?  What was the duration from Ice Cream Sandwich announcement to actual phones?  And did everyone stop buying Android phones?

I know, Microsoft should have learned a lesson from Google here, but why give them way more grief than Google or Apple when they do the same thing?

Going back to iPhone?

Recently, a co-worker sent me an email with the following question:

“So – it’s about time for a new phone for me and I’m seriously considering going back to iPhone. I love my Samsung/MS phone but I am concerned they will not reach critical mass and you have to go Android or IPhone. 

What do you think?”

Here was my response:

First, why do you care if a phone reaches critical mass or not?  Does the phone provide the application and services you need?  If not, then move to a platform that does.

Here are my random thoughts:

  • IDC and Gartner predict that Windows Phone 7 will bypass iPhones by 2016 (used to be 2015)…but I would not put a lot of trust in that.  I think they feel that a lot of Nokia customers in developing countries will stick with Nokia phones…and not sure if I buy into that 100%.  Although there was a news report a few weeks back that Windows Phone 7 is outselling the iPhone in China ( http://news.cnet.com/8301-10805_3-57436975-75/windows-phone-edging-out-iphone-in-china-says-microsoft/?part=rss&subj=news&tag=readMore )…I don’t think we are close to WP7 eclipsing iPhone anytime soon.
  • My thought is that Apple was a visionary company driven by Steve Jobs.  I am not sure there remains that leadership to drive innovation in the same way.  That is not to say they will not be successful…but I think they may be working off a 3-5 year vision for iPhones and iPads laid out by Steve’s leadership…and what happens after that?
  • I like the WP7 UI.  In fact, I am slightly annoyed by the iOS UI when I use my iPad, and here are a few of my key differences:
    • Really wish the iOS devices had a back button.
    • Like the live tiles
    • Overall, like the Metro UI
    • My iPad 1 running iOS has been getting buggier with each OS update…and reading blogs…it is not just me
    • I find the WP7 UI very responsive
  • Agree that iOS has more apps, but very few apps that I want that I cannot get on WP7 (can you say “Words with Friends”? – but I love Wordament on WP7 platform more)
  • Windows 8 + Windows Phone 8.  There is talk of some really nice integration between these two….but I have no real details here.
  • iOS and Enterprise email/calendar bugs.  Calendars apparently still have some issues with syncing and providing the same information on Outlook vs. iOS.

Ultimately…pick the device that provides the features and services you need.  I decided to stay with WP7 (and my Nokia 900 was free in the end).  I did not consider the Android devices based on my limited experience with the Android tablets and the Android OS.  Android left me with that Linux “taste”…not quite polished, and for some features, you had to hack and/or mess with config files to get it to work (like proxy servers in Accenture network – which I believe is now fixed with the OS).   So I only briefly thought about iPhone 4…but nothing new for me there.

Good luck with your decision.

Creating Outlook Meetings that end early.

Here are the instructions to create a macro that will allow you create Outlook 2010 meetings that are scheduled to end 15 minutes shorter than the selected time.

First, we need to enable the Outlook Developer toolbar:

  • In Outlook, select the File | Options menu
  • Select “Customize Ribbon”
  • Then on the right, check the Developer option under Main Tabs
  • Click on the “OK” button to close the Outlook Options window.
You should now see a Developer tab item appear at the top of Outlook.
  • Select the Developer tab
  • Select Macros | Macros menu item in the ribbon bar.
  • In the resulting dialog, enter “CreateCustomApp” in the Macro Name: field
  • Click on the Create button
  • Copy and paste the following code into the Microsoft Visual Basic for Application (MS VBA) window that appears, overwriting the existing empty Sub CreateCustomAppt() code that is there
    Sub CreateCustomAppt()
     Const minShort = 15
     Dim objOL 'As Outlook.Application
     Dim objAppt 'As Outlook.AppointmentItem
     Dim oView As Outlook.View
     Dim oExpl As Outlook.Explorer
     Dim oFolder As Outlook.Folder
     Dim oCalView As Outlook.CalendarView
    
     Const olAppointmentItem = 1
     Const olMeeting = 1
     Set objOL = CreateObject("Outlook.Application")
     Set objAppt = objOL.CreateItem(olAppointmentItem)
     Set oExpl = Application.ActiveExplorer
     Set oFolder = Application.ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder
     Set oView = oExpl.CurrentView
    
     ' Check whether the active explorer is displaying a calendar view.
     If oView.ViewType = olCalendarView Then
     Set oCalView = oExpl.CurrentView
     With objAppt
     .Subject = "<Placeholder>"
     .Start = oCalView.SelectedStartTime
     '.Duration = 55
     .End = DateAdd("n", -minShort, oCalView.SelectedEndTime)
     .ReminderMinutesBeforeStart = 15
     .ReminderSet = True
    
     '.Save
     .Display
     End With
     End If
    
     Set objAppt = Nothing
     Set objOL = Nothing
    
    End Sub
    
    
  • Save and close down the MS VBA window.
Now we are going to create a custom ribbon bar icon for this macro.
  • Select File | Options menu from Outlook again
  • Select the Customize Ribbon
  • From the “choose commands from:” dropdown on the left side of the window, select “Macros” (you should see your CreateCustomApp macro there)
  • On the right, the Customize the Ribbon should have “Main Tabs” already selected
  • Highlight the “Home (Calendar)” item below the Main Tabs title
  • Click on New Group ( a “New Group (Custom)” is created)
  • Click on Rename… button.
  •  Let’s rename it to Custom and select any symbol you want.
  • Click on the “OK” button to save your changes.

You should see the name change, and your Custom tab highlighted on the right list of tabs.  We are now going to add the Macro we just created to our Custom Tab group.

  • Click on the CreateCustomAppt macro listed on the left of the Outlook Options window to select it.
  • Click on the “Add>>” button in the middle.  This will add the a button for the macro in the selected (in this case our “Custom”) tab
  • Click on the “Rename…” button.
  • Name the button “Custom Appointment” and select an icon you like.
  • Click on the “OK” button  to save  and close the Rename window.
  • Click on the “OK” button to close the Outlook Options window
  • Select the “Home” tab at the top of the Outlook application, and you should see your Custom Appointment icon in the ribbon bar.

Now to use the macro, find a date & time where you want to create your appointment.  Select the range, let’s say “tomorrow from 4pm – 5pm”.  Now click the Custom Appointment button in the ribbon bar, and an appointment dialog will appear with a meeting created that is 15 minutes shorter than the selected time.

That’s it.  If you want sometime other than 15 minutes less, then you can change the following line in the macro:

Const minShort = 15

to the number of minutes you want to “shorten” the meeting by.

WP7 Feature Request – Backup and Restore Apps

This is a separate callout of a WP7 feature request from my previous post.

A lot of WP7 users are gadget geeks…we buy new phones at least every 1-2 years, and we buy lots of apps.  Come on Microsoft, make it really easy for us to backup and restore our applications on our mobile phones.  I spent about an hour with my new phone reinstalling all the applications I had on my old phone.

Anyone that knows an easier way than using Reinstaller, either through the Zune desktop app or other option, let me know.

I really want to love the Nokia Lumia 900

Quick Note:  The comments below are based on my usage before the Nokia update was release and subsequently installed.

I owned the Samsung Focus, and pre-ordered a black (I know…plain Jane) Nokia Lumia 900 within the first few hours when it was available on the AT&T site.  I got it on Good Friday like all the other Lumia preorders…and I immediatly started using it.  Here are my initial negative impressions of the Nokia phone and the Microsoft eco system.

  1. Wow, what a pain to reinstall all my previously installed apps.  I downloaded and installed the “Reinstaller” app on the new phone…but I still had to install each app individually and then “back” through a number of screens to get to the next one on the list and install.  It was way harder than it should be…and very manual.  I did choose not to re-install some apps, but the overall process needs to be improve.  Now anyone that knows of a better way by using the Zune app, please let me know…because I don’t know of a backup and restore process like iTunes.
  2. I still wish the power button was on the top.  I do like the buttons on one side better than the Focus’ layout of the power opposite the volume controls.  I hit the power button a lot less….but I still hit it.
  3. Screen in sunlight might be slightly better than my Focus, but still not great.
  4. No headphones?   Oh well, I guess I will use my Focus provided ones.
  5. Battery life.  I was so hoping I could make it through a day of what I consider moderate use, but by 8pm, it seems I need to plug it in if I am going to be out and about.  To be fair, I do listen to podcasts (either audio or video) during my commute which is 20 minutes each way, so that 40 minute of playback (turned up to 30 to get it at “line level” for my Aux input) may be to taxing.  I too have run the Diagnostics app and the Battery Status shows my Current (discharging) hovers jumps around 100mA with periodic spurts up to 400 mA (maybe it is checking mail – set at every 30 minutes)….with no background tasks (shut em all down through Settings), and closed down any open apps by “repeatedly pressing the back button”.
  6. Not sure what is going on with background tasks, or maybe it is just the Weather Channel app, but at least once during the last week, I pulled my phone out of my case and it was REALLY hot, and the battery had went down about 25% in a 1/2 hour period.  The phone was off, but something was taxing the processor and draining the battery.  It only happened once, but I don’t want it happening when/if I really need my phone.
  7. I miss my 16 GB SD card I had in my Focus.  I am running low on memory (I have a few audio and video podcasts loaded).
  8. Camera is not near as nice as I was expecting.  To be honest, I shoot with a Nikon D7000, and no phone even comes close.  But, I find the pictures I take with the Lumia to be slightly yellowish.  Just try this yourself,  point your camera at something with a lot of white in it, looks good on the screen, then snap the picture, and the picture turns slightly yellow.  If I spend the time to adjuste the image, it seems to be better, but why the yellow tint?
  9. I sort of miss the USB cover my Focus had.  Not a big deal….but keeping dust out is nice.

To be fair, there are a number of thinks I like about the Lumia 900, so here is that list:

  1. Love the bigger and brighter screen.
  2. I think the speaker on the bottom of the phone in an improvement over the back of the phone where I have to “cup my hands” to create a way for the sound to “bounce back” so I can hear it during a movie or audio file.
  3. Nokia Drive is awesome.  Now it is not as nice as my Garmin, but that maps on that are out of date, and the money I would have used to update the maps I spent on buying the Nokia Lumia 900…a win/win.
  4. Feels solid compared to the Focus.  I have not dropped it yet…nor do I plan on dropping it, but as long as the screen does not crack, I think it would hold up.
  5. LTE is great.  I live fairly far outside Chicago, but downloads @ 12Mbps+ and uploads at approx. 4 Mbps is sweet.
  6. Front facing camera is a nice addition.

Feel free to post your thoughts and comments to this post.

What’s wrong with the press saying the Nokia 900 has under powered hardware?

I will start of my rant by saying, “Yes, the Nokia 900 does not have the highest end quad/dual-core processors” so some will perceive this as a bad thing, so let’s compare this to another real world analogy…..cars.

Let’s say you have two car choices for your next purchase; The Autobahn Android 2012 and the Likus Lumia 2012 models.  Both cars perform quite well…they go over 100 MPH (which you will likely never hit) and accelerate quite well (although when loaded with a lot of passengers, the Autobahn can get a bit sluggish).

The Autobahn Android 2012 looks like the same Autobahn car they have built for the last 4 years, but an overall favorite of drivers.  Under the hood is a 350 HP engine (eg. powerful Dual-Core processor) with an estimated fuel economy of 18 city and 25 highway (more cores = slightly more power usage – not exact, but click here for comparison of single vs. dual core power usage).  When doing 70 MPH, if you step on the pedal, it has lots of “get up and go”.  You pay for that power through everyday gas mileage.

The new Likus Lumia 2012 looks nice, and operates like every other car out there, but doesn’t have wood paneling on the dash (eg. Draw Something or Words with Friends), but almost every other feature is available.  Under the hood is a 300 HP engine (eg. slightly less powerful, but still has acceptable pickup) with an estimated fuel economy of 22 city and 33 highway.

You love the look of the Likus , it gets great gas mileage, and has 99% of the features you want.  Which car do you buy?  Based on that information, and the fact that gas prices are over $4 per gallon in parts of the US…most folks I would guess would go with the Likus (just look at Honda Prius and hybrid sales).  So, why would you not pick a phone that performs every bit as well as the “more powerful” ones on the market, has a really great OS and UI, and by using a single-core processor, which does not affect everyday performance, but instead will increase battery life (eg. gas mileage)?

What it really should boil down to is usability, overall performance and battery life…why worry if the processor is Quad Core 2 GHz processor when better than half the time the phone is either off, or only using a fraction of the processing power.  And for most of the time the phone is on, you are doing nothing more than talking, texting or viewing facebook feeds.  We are not rendering 3D images or crunching numbers to solve cancer.

Go and try the new Nokia 900 (I don’t have mine yet…but FedEx has it in there truck right now).  If you don’t like the UI, the big 4.3″ sccreen, or find the phone sluggish…then by all means, buy a different phone that best meets your needs.  But don’t let some journalist tell you that you don’t want the new Honda Lumia 2012 car because the engine is only a 300HP engine and you can’t get wood trim on the dash….that’s just silly.  You are smarter than that.

Why I like my WP7 phone over my iPhone – part 2

After a few days, I came up with a few more features I like on my WP7…that iPhone users have to learn to live without.

  1. Damn IOS Auto Correct.  Now WP7 has “auto correct”, but it seems to perform much better than the iOS version of auto correct.  I remember turning it off on my iPhone when I had it, and I still have it turned off on my iPad.  (see http://www.damnyouautocorrect.com/  there are entire sites dedicated to the auto correct silliness of iOS)
  2. Late for meeting.  If I am running late for a scheduled meeting, there is a quick “Late” button when I view my meeting invite.  When I press this button, I am given the option to send an email to the person that scheduled the meeting, or everyone invited to the meeting that states; “I’ll be a bit late, but I’m on my way.  See you soon.”  So from the meeting, I am 3 clicks away to tell folks I am running late.
  3. Edit response to meeting invite.  When declining a meeting, on an iOS device I cannot give a reason.  I am so used to this in Outlook and now WP7 that I do not accept or decline meetings using my iPad (that and the number of issues iOS devices have had with meeting synchronization in the past).

Please feel free to add your favorite reasons in the comments.

Okay, I tried it…

(click on the picture to enlarge)

This morning, on my way into work I saw the truck pitured in the photo.  Yes, is a QR code on the tailgate.  Initially, I thought that was silly, but when I came to a stop, I snapped a picture and tried Bing to see if I could follow the link…but no go. Maybe if I had a little more time I may have been able to zoom in and get it.

What’s next? QR bumper stickers?

Why I like my WP7 phone over my iPhone

Here are the highlights on why I like my Windows Phone 7 phone over my old iPhone:

  1. When looking at the keyboard, am I typing in upper or lower case?  On my iOS device, you have to look for a slight blue highlight on the up arrow of the shift key, yet on WP7 and Android devices, the entire keyboard changes that characters to upper or lower case to show what mode you are in.  This is software, why can’t Apple just change the keyboard.  And the funny thing, I did not notice the issue when I had my iPhone, and everyone I have shown does not really realize it…but once you notice it, it becomes a minor annoyance.
  2. Downloadable, subscription music.  For $10 month, I get a Zune pass subscription that will allow me to stream or download all the music I want on my device.  Now this is really nice to:
    • Minimize my mobile data traffic over a pure streaming service (like LastFM, Spotify, Slacker Radio, etc.).
    • No outages when my data plan cuts out (like in remote areas in the midwest)
    • I get to download and stream music to my PC, XBox plus 3 other mobile devices (my phone, daughters Zune HD player)
  3. Love the configuration and look and feel of the Home page.  Not just a bunch of icons, but the Live Tiles show me a lot of extra info like (all this without any input):
    • Weather temp, and flips to show radar
    • Next appointment
    • Family group tile that shows if I have any calls, text messages or emails from anyone in my family.
    • Missed phone calls, text messages, emails, etc.
    • ToDo Tasks remaining
    • New RSS Feed articles, with highlight titles
  4. I can create groups of contacts.  I currently have 2 groups defined; one for my family and one for my immediate co-worker.  The contact groups allow me to:
    • See if I have any new emails, phone calls or text messages from the group.
    • I can view the groups’ aggregate Twitter or Facebook posts
    • I can send an email or text message to the entire group with the single click.
    • I can view all the photos of the group members in a single place
    • I pin my Family group on my Home page so I can get updates and communicate easily and quickly.
  5. The People (or contacts/phone) application merges all my contact information together for me.  For example, I have one co-worker in which his single contact card on my phone merges all the information together from my company MS Exchange contact, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and XBox ( my @live.com account).  So I don’t have multiple contact cards, just one, with all his data in a single place.  And when I view the contact card, I can swipe right and see all the communications I have had with this person, which includes:
    • Phone calls
    • Text Message
    • Emails
    • Tweets
    • etc.
  6. BACK BUTTON.  All caps because this is a big deal when you get used to it.  I still use an iPad on a daily basis…and I REALLY miss the back button when switching between apps.  I know, I can double click on the Home button, then select the application I was just in, but this is much more difficult that just clicking the Back button.  Everyone with a Blackberry, Android and WP7 device I am sure know what I mean.
  7. It’s quicker for a lot of daily tasks.  Google “Smoked by Windows Phone 7” and see what I mean.
  8. Initially, WP7 won with the quick picture taking by simply holding the Camera button down.  And for those of us that are required to enter a password because of Company security policy…this is a real time saver.  I think Apple might have closed the gap a bit with their later OS versions…but not sure if they would still beat WP7 in a “Smoked by” test of taking a picture.
  9. Options, options, options.  Now I have gotten used to the soft keyboard, but try and get an iPhone with a physical keyboard, or maybe a 4.3 or 4.7 inch display.  Replaceable battery anyone?

That is my quick dump on why I like my WP7 phone, and am currently looking at another (Nokia 900) WP7 phone to replace my current Samsung Focus.  I still love my Focus, but LTE (can I get an iPhone with LTE????….think not) would be sweet, I need a new GPS and for the lower price, I think I might just be fine with Nokia Drive (included with the phone), and a bigger display and faster CPU might be nice.

Please feel free to comment on why you love your WP7 phone.  And if you have carried a WP7 phone for any period of time (say 1 month) and went back to an iPhone, I would like to hear why as well.

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