WP_20131026_19_17_13_Pro.jpg WP_20131026_19_09_06_Pro.jpg
  1. Salmon, Rice, Cucumber, Nori. Baked
  2. Tentacles, rice, green beans, coriander. Squid poached in rice vinegar, sugar, salt

Introduction

About a month ago I switched from my iPhone 4S to a Nokia Lumia 925. This was motivated not so much by any obvious deficits with the iPhone but by more practical considerations: My mother's iPhone 3GS has had some problems; she needed a replacement. This was a good opportunity to try some alternatives. Windows Phone 8 has received some praise for its user experience, and Nokia is a renown mobile handheld provider. I went for the Lumia 925, which is one of the top models offered by Nokia.

This blog post is about my experiences with this phone during the last couple of weeks, especially taking into account the differences to my old iPhone and the migration phase.

My User Profile

I would not characterize myself as smartphone power user, the following use cases are pretty typical for me:

Phone Yes, I do use my smartphone to place and receive telephone calls via GSM
Messaging SMS, iMessage. While iMessage is not a must, most of the people I know are using it. Although many contracts feature unlimited SMS, iMessage has delivery reports, built-in support for pictures etc. I hardly know anyone who uses MMS.
Contacts, Calendar I like to have my contacts and calendars synchronized between my phone, my PCs (1 Mac, 1 Linux) and my iPad. I am operating a private owncloud server for this. My work calendar is a Google thing.
Email I use one primary email account for private use. Since I do not want to expose this email address too much, I have an additional Google Mail account that I use from time to time.
Web Browsing I read web pages on my phone. No bookmark syncing in place.
Maps I need to find out how to get to a certain place or where I am. Most of my queries are address or POI based. I am not interested in finding out about nearby shopping occasions or restaurants with dubious ratings.
Social stuff No Facebook, no Linked-in. I do read or post on Twitter from time to time.
Music, Podcasts Some ten to twenty albums, five podcasts

Hardware

The Lumia 925 is significantly larger than the iPhone 4S (129 mm / 70,6 mm versus 115,2 mm / 58,5 mm). It is a little bit slimmer (8,5 mm versus 9,3 mm). Weight-wise there isn't any significant difference (139 g versus 140 g). Compared to my iPhone 4S (without bumper) the edges do not feel as sharp. It still fits into most of my shirts' and jackets' pockets.

lumia925_iPhone4S.png

Both phones have an on/off switch, a "Start" button, two buttons for volume control, a headphone jack and a port for connecting the phone to a computer or a charger. The Lumia features an additional button for taking photos and a "Back" and "Search" button.

As opposed to other Lumia models, the 925 doesn't have wireless charging built in. You'll need an additional accessory for this, the charging cover. Unfortunately the charging cover does not protect the screen of the phone, else I might have bought it.

You can read all the specs here (Nokia Lumia 925) and here (Apple iPhone 4S).

Unfortunately, the remote control of my Shure SE115M+ earphones does not work with the Lumia 925. There are probably some adapters available, but I doubt that these cover all features.

The battery capacity is sufficient for my daily use. I usually charge my phone overnight.

Initial Boot

I simply removed the SIM card from my iPhone and installed it into the 925.

Upon the initial start you are asked to set up some Microsoft account. There is probably a way to bypass this, but it doesn't harm either.

Wifi setup was straightforward.

I was able to initiate and receive phone calls.

The UI is absolutely stunning and easy to use (more on that perhaps later).

Accounts

Adding my Twitter account was easy. Tweets show up in the People hub, which is a good thing. Unfortunately the built-in Twitter support is a bit limited. Although I am not a Twitter power-user, I still like pictures to show up directly and not as links to the SkyDrive. I thus installed the official Twitter app, whose design unfortunately does not blend in with the Windows Phone UI in my opinion.

Getting the phone to talk to my owncloud server for contacts and calendars took a couple of hours. The recent GDR2 update includes support for CardDAV and CalDAV (which is natively supported by owncloud), but this support is limited to Google accounts, only. My options were:

Option Description Verdict
Web account Migrate data to my new Microsoft account or a new Google account, change other clients to use this service. I really want to keep my contacts, my calendar and my emails on my private server.
Exchange Server Install a Microsoft Exchange server or something like openchange, migrate exisiting clients from owncloud to Exchange server Too much hassle. I do not have a Microsoft Windows Server. Unsure about openchange requirements and features.
Exchange Activesync connector There is at least one freely available Exchange Activesync connector that speaks IMAP, CalDAV and CardDAV: php-push-2. Simple migration

I went for php-push-2. The good news: Most parts work quite well, I can read and send emails, import contacts and read calendar entries. But I have experienced some synchronization problems especially concerning contacts (cannot update contact on server) and calendars (does not synchronize at all). The mapping between the data formats might be rather complicated but I'd still expect most of the fields to be available in both, Exchange Activesync and CalDAV (RFC 4791) / iCalendar (RFC 5545 or CardDAV (RFC 6352) / vCard (RFC 6350). There is still some work to do here, perhaps I can help improve this adapter.

The integration of contact lists from different accounts is solved nicely in Windows Phone, and you can see your last interactions with a contact in the address book.

Synchronisation

For synchronizing photos and music between my MacBook Pro and the Lumia 925, I installed the Windows Phone application (had to trick the installer into believing that I was running 10.7 instead of 10.6.8...). I was able to synchronize podcasts, music (Mac to phone, no DRM) and pictures (phone to Mac). Regarding the pictures synchronization I still haven't found out how to suppress the generation of new "Events" for each synchronization. Perhaps there is some kind of toggle in the Windows Phone application.

HERE app suite

Nokia provides a suite of map/navigation apps under the "HERE" label, using the here.com service. I find these apps to be superior to the corresponding Apple Maps app on my iPhone: HERE Maps is very fast, its search usually delivers the results I am expecting and I can create/manage favorites (not as collections/folders, though). Unfortunately, there isn't any integration with the address book (at least I haven't found out how to show a contact's address in HERE Maps.

HERE Transit is a great looking app that allows users to query local public transport information. Alas, my local transportation provider is not connected to this service, so the app is largely useless to me now. I had the opportunity to try out HERE Transit on my recent visit to Brussels. The information was mostly accurate and useful, but I was also offered a routing (from Montgomery to the Atomium) using a Metro or tram line that no longer exists (line 23, of course!).

Multi-Tasking

It is not alway transparent which applications are running. Usually closing an app involves clicking the back button. In web browsing apps or any other app that has a long navigation history, this can involve quite a couple of clicks. It would be nice to have an app switcher where you can could apps directly.

Apps

The lack of apps is often cited as a reason against using Windows Phone. My requirements are covered by themarket, with one exception: OmniFocus, it will probably never be ported to Windows Phone or Android.

Summary

The Lumia 925 is a great smartphone, and I will probably keep using it for the next two years or so.

Sidenote: The migration from an iPhone has made it obvious to me how isolated the different ecospheres (Apple, Google, Microsoft) are. Why can only Apple (Microsoft) users profit from enhanced messaging via iMessage (Microsoft Messenger)? Why is it such a hassle to integrate with privately operated, standards compliant services? Openness would probably attract more users and have no significant effect on the sales of cloud based email, calendar, storage services.


My perfect lock screens

iOS7 lock screen - Make Darth smile!

iOS7 Lock screen - Make Darth smile!

WP8 lock screen - Play with Lego!

lockscreen_wp8_scaled.jpg
I reactivated the ENQUEUE blog.
With the advent of Snow Leopard, it is no longer necessary to use Typinator for simple text replacement patterns. See e.g. the attached screenshot for implementing the arrow shortcuts presented before. Arrows_Snow_Leopard.png
I have been using Snow Leopard for a few days now. Unfortunately, my beloved "cycle through application windows" shortcut is not localized anymore (used to be Command < for German keyboard layouts). Thanks to this helpful blog post, I was able to recover it, quickly: Simply open System preferences and change the keyboard shortcut for the command "Move focus to next window in application". Hooray!
Emacs_Faces.png Let's say you want to customize the look and feel of your Emacs by changing the font. There have been a couple of blog posts comparing monospaced fonts and their aptitude for coding (see, e.g. a nice comparison by Jeff Atwood or the interesting review at Hivelogic). Now, unless you have any other special requirements, it's very easy to change the default font, once you know its correct name. To find the name, fire up Emacs and open the font panel (M-x ns-popup-font-panel). Select the font you would like to use and check out its properties (M-x describe-face). Copy the Family property to your clipboard. Finally, add something like this to your .emacs (replace Espresso_Mono with the family name from the clipboard):
(set-face-attribute 'default nil :family "Espresso_Mono")
That's pretty easy, isn't it? You can customize this even more. Please read the chapter on face customization in the manual. There's also a special chapter on font handling on the Mac in there.
Typinator arrowsOne thing i do use Typinator for, is a shorthand for inserting arrow characters. This is particularly useful when taking notes or creating an outline. I am attaching a screenshot of my shorthand here; for inserting the arrow characters, simply invoke the MacOS X Character Palette. The shorthand for the downarrow might seem a bit strange (why not use -v?), but this is faster to type and it resembles the LaTeX way of setting a subscript. If you need more shortcuts for note taking, check out the Typinator sets contained in the TeX To Me bundle by Matthew Taylor!
Typinator and Emacs The recent MacHeist bundle included Typinator. While I haven't used this program, really, I could imagine some of you, my valued readers, are. So, if you want to shun Emacs built-in macro goodness or just want to make all your precious Typinator shorthands/replacements available in Emacs, this simple fix is for you... ... only if you have not enabled Mac specific keyboard shortcuts, i.e. Command is M and Alt/Option is not bound to any Emacs modifier key. Typinator relies on Command-v to paste the clipboard's contents. This combination clashes with Emacs' default binding (scroll-down). Simply rebind these keys and you are all set:
(global-set-key [(meta v)] 'yank)
(global-set-key [(meta y)] 'scroll-down)
If you have recently downloaded a pretest Emacs (e.g. from this fine repository), you'll notice that ns-extended-platform-support (as outlined in the first screencast) is no longer included in the default distribution. So, if you have been relying on the functionality included in this file, you'll have to install it manually. Find all the instructions in the EmacsWiki.
AUCTeX error marker in preview mode I have been working on a screencast covering AUCTeX and ran into some problems with the built-in preview. The package features some nifty error markers (see screenshot). Alas, the common Mac shortcut for a mouse right-click (by holding the Control key), does not work in Emacs, so you cannot access the error markers' functions correctly without using a "real" mouse. Fortunately, it is rather easy to translate this event:
(global-unset-key [\C-down-mouse-1])
(define-key function-key-map [\C-mouse-1] [mouse-3])
Depending on your preferences and your mouse settings, you might probably want to experiment with this a little. Check out the keybindings using C-h b and search for mouse-2 and mouse-3, and adjust the setting accordingly. So, please stay put for some AUCTeX screencast madness!