Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Here!!!!

The Psion iKon has arrived. I've been playing with it for a few hours.

Installing via Visual Studio CAB files is as easy as could be. Nothing too troubling, but the excitement of deploying an app on a new platform is amazing.

Setting the background though was a pain. You can set the background from Settings --> Today --> Use this picture as background. When you do it that way your image will be 50% transparent. Probably not what you were looking for. The easiest way to set the background AND set the transparency to:
Open File Explorer
Open the image you want to use as the background
Menu - Set as Today Background
Set transparency level to 0
Press OK.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Resolution Support System

What ever happened to Decision Support Systems? When I was in college, I had a professor who made it seem like the world would be running on DSSs by 2000.

Anyway, the reason I ask. I'm putting together a web site to support users of an in house piece of software and I wanted something more than a FAQ.

I have a script that is used by the help desk when they get a phone call and wanted to create it as a web page. Just a quick weekend project huh? Well I ended up searching for an existing template or even an example for 12 hours. (I'll bet someone replies with one within the hour).

Finally I sat down and tried to pick my brain about the basics of a DSS. In case you're wondering, it's really just one question leading to another until a reasonable answer is arrived at. I DID say basics didn't I?

The design ended up working out to be pretty easy. Questions are stored in XML files and served up in an HTML page. Possible answers are also shown. Each answer leads to another question. Answers are really just questions, because at the bottom I ask the user if they were able to solve their problem.

If a user cannot solve their problem, I end up sending an email to the help desk containing the questions the system already asked the user and their response.

6 hours of work and I've got a good foundation.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Special Hardware

Wow! Jumping from consumer grade hardware to commercial isn't easy.

No, the programming isn't any different, but ordering... That's a different story.

I just spent two weeks going from manufacturer to distributor and finally hunting for a reseller who would sell Psion Ikons to my company.

Many of the resellers I called were not interested in selling just the hardware. (They sell the hardware for a loss and want the development money). I finally found one who would sell the bare unit. As I was talking to them, I found out that they also do development work. I was 10 minutes into the call before I was even asked if I wanted them to do the work.

Anyway, along the way I learned a few things.
1. Manufacturers don't want to do any type of one-time sales. They want a steady income stream.
2. Distributors (see #1)
3. Many Value Added Resellers want you to pay for their "added value" and make poor "resellers"
4. Finding the right person is worth the hunt.
5. Don't get frustrated when you end up on a wild goose chase.
and finally
Ask as many questions as you can at every step. You never know what you'll learn.

I have 4 pages of notes that I've collected at each step. Having these notes has made each successive step that much easier. By the time I got to the reseller, I knew most of my options. I also knew that they might know more about the product than I could. They were able to put together a good combination at a good price.

The real fun begins next week when I get my hands on the real thing. (Emulators only go so far)

More to follow

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Going Mobile


Yes, I'm excited! I'm entering the world of handheld devices. I'm not talking wimpy I-Phones or temperamental Blackberries. I'm talking full blown drop it on the ground, stomp on it, pick it up and keep working Psion Ikons.

I'm entering the world of Windows Mobile!

Add to that Oracle Lite. No, it isn't a lightweight Oracle database. It's a full-blown synchronization platform for hand held devices.

My head is spinning with all the pieces. Just like it did when I started .Net. And MFC before that and...