Render Unto Caesar…

Google’s Paris Headquarters was raided by French authorities

google-doodle-winners-2012-grade-10-12-5

I get it.

I TOTALLY get it. Paying taxes sucks, especially for the little guy, but when you’re a large corporation like Google, you’re expected to pay what the government thinks is your fair share.  When you don’t, the government may pay an unannounced visit and confiscate a bunch of data looking for information to support their ascertain that you aren’t.

On 2016-05-24, that’s what happened to Google in Paris, France.

Google’s Paris headquarters was raided by French authorities at 5am local time (11am EDT) by 100 investigators.  Based on an investigation that began nearly a year ago, information supporting tax evasion and money laundering was sought, according to Reuters.

French authorities are seeking nearly $1.76B in back taxes from Google and indicated that Google has “very aggressive” tax avoidance techniques.  Large corporations like Google often take advantage of loopholes in tax laws to avoid paying taxes in the US. This process often involves a number of different techniques including keeping cash in offshore banks to avoid paying larger sums in taxes.

According to Digital Trends, commonly employed methods include the “Double Irish” and “Dutch Sandwich.”  These processes have the avoiding company sending their profits through an Irish company who then routes the money through a Dutch company. The Dutch company then sends the money to a SECOND Irish company based in a tax haven.

Google recently entered into an agreement with the UK which ended a six year investigation with their tax authority.  In that agreement, Google agreed to pay $185M in back taxes to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and to revise its tax procedures indicating that it would “now pay tax based on revenue from U.K.-based advertisers, which reflects the size and scope of [their] U.K. business.”

This – the French – tax issue, is much more serious than the UK one, with Google owing up to an alleged €1.6B ($1.76B USD), according to a recent Reuters report.  How well France’s investigation fares is going to rely heavily on EU tax law which protects companies against paying tax in a country where they do not have a “permanent establishment.”

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What’s in a Font?

Google unveils new logo – Internets burn down (story at 11..?)

Normally I wouldn’t comment on a company’s logo change. I mean, it’s not normally news or anything of importance. Unless of course, that company is Google, and then just about every time that company burps, its important. And honestly, that’s about what this logo change from most recent to new looks like.

It’s a font change.

That’s all… just a font change

Google changed their logo from this

Old Google

to this

New Google 02

They moved from a serif based font to a sans serif based font.

…Aaaaand again, the Internets lost their mind and burned down. Everybody is talking about it. Google’s perspective on this is that their new logo really spells out their mobile strategy. The font is easier to read on a mobile device. The four dots, four colors and four colored microphone speak to what you can do with Google on the desktop, on your phone or on your tablet with Gmail, Chrome, Docs, Maps and any of Google’s other cross platform, cloud based properties.

New Google 03

Where they get all that, from a font change is a bit of a stretch on my part, but hey… that’s just me, maybe.

However, I can’t doubt or make fun of the impact that Google has had on nearly EVERYONE in modern history in ITS 17 years of life. Their company’s name is now a recognized verb. It’s the biggest search engine on the planet. It powers more email than just about any other non-ISP based email provider, including Microsoft; and it has the number one mapping solution in both the desktop and mobile spaces in Google Maps.

Let’s face it – nearly everybody uses both of these tools. I’d be lost without both of them; and literally in the case of Maps… As computing has evolved over the past 25 years, Google came into being and then has changed with it to make computing more value added than you’d think.

And speaking of evolution, you really need to take a look at what Google has done over the past 17 years. This is one cool little movie…

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Feature Review – Nexus 6 & Project Fi Part One

Google’s new cellular network, Project Fi, is here. Is it all its cracked up to be?

Nexus-6

Introduction

I’ve been a Google Services user for quite some time. In fact, I have a Gmail address that I still actively use that dates back to one of the very first and original Gmail Invitations. I began using Gmail in 2003, shortly after it was introduced to the public. I’ve been using Google Apps as a (now grandfathered) free, domain account since late 2009. I love Google Services for (seriously) just a very few reasons, the first and foremost being that they usually are always up and running. Its not like the earlier days when they went down all the time.

When Google announced Project Fi, I looked into getting myself a review unit and an account. With device and service now in hand, I am now currently looking into how well it all fits together. Project Fi is the company’s first foray into being an MVNO – Mobile, Virtual Network Operator.

Project Fi combines services from two mobile operators and one universal, networking service (Wi-Fi) in order to provide voice and data services. With Sprint and T-Mobile providing calling and mobile broadband service, combined with Wi-Fi calling and internet access, you should have coverage nearly everywhere… or at least that’s the idea.

There are a couple caveats with Project Fi, however. In this article, we’ll look at those. We will also look at the service it provides, the changes it makes to Google Voice – if relevant in your use – as well as the hardware it requires. I’m not going to go into a truly in-depth look at the Nexus 6 hardware (though I will cover it, somewhat). I’m going to concentrate more on how it works with Project Fi more than anything else.

The device has been available for a while; and if you’re looking for an in-depth or teardown review of the Nexus 6, you should check those out first. Again, I’m going to go over the device , but I’m going to really skim over it. There are a number of really good reviews of the Nexus 6 on the web already. You can find a few at pocketnow.com, C|Net and Engadget. With all that said, let’s get to it…

 

Hardware

The first thing that you need to know about Project Fi is that it requires very specific hardware. You can’t just take a Project Fi SIM and stick it into any phone with a SIM slot. It just doesn’t work that way. In order to use the service, you have to use compatible hardware, and that means acquiring a new device, unless you happen to own a Nexus 6.

Nexus-6

The Nexus 6 is the first (and currently only) smartphone (at the moment, at least) that works with Project Fi. If you already have a Nexus 6, you’re halfway there. All you have to do to get on the service is go to the Project Fi website and request an invitation.

Yep… an invitation. Oh… and then wait. Like, forever.

Nexus-6

Like everything cool that Google does, part of their DNA is to dangle their projects in front of you, make the access exclusive, elitist and again, cool; and build demand for it, if only just to build up the hype. In the end its (metaphorically speaking) just a photo upload service, just a webmail app, just an online office suite, etc.   So, Project Fi is just like a… no. Wait… I’m getting ahead of myself… AH-GAIN.

Nexus-6

In order to access the service, after your invitation arrives, again, you need a Nexus 6. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can purchase one through Project Fi. If you do, you have the option of buying it outright, or by paying for it over the course of 24 months as part of your monthly service, interest free.

Nexus-6

Through Project Fi, the Nexus 6 is $549USD for a 32GB version or $599USD for the 64GB version. Project Fi only offers the Midnight Blue version of the Nexus 6, so your only real choice with the device is storage size. If you want to purchase a Nexus 6 via their monthly purchase plan, you’ll pay about $22 a month for the 32GB version and $24 a month for the 64GB version. Again, there are no finance or interest charges. Your monthly charge will include any applicable taxes. If the Nexus 6 on Project Fi is going to be your daily driver, then it really makes sense to purchase the 64GB version, especially if you go the monthly payment route, as the price difference between the two is only $50USD. That process requires a credit check, though.

Nexus-6

However, Google is being very picky about who qualifies for the monthly payment option and who doesn’t. I wasn’t given specifics, but I was told by the PR rep I spoke with that even with my very good credit, that I wouldn’t qualify.

Screen

The first thing you’re going to notice about the Nexus 6 is its huge screen size. The device’s screen specs can be seen below. All of the specs in this article have been gathered from Phone Arena, which is one of the best places I know of to look for hard core, device specs.

Nexus-6

Physical size: 6.0 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
Pixel density: 493 ppi
Technology: AMOLED
Screen-to-body ratio: 74.03 %
Touchscreen: Multi-touch
Features: Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Scratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 3)

Simply put, at 6 inches, the device… is enormous. With a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, its screen rivals the display resolution of my Apple Thunderbolt display. The only difference in the resolution (and only the resolution) between the two is that the default orientation for the Nexus 6 is Portrait (where any monitor – like my Thunderbolt Display – has a default orientation of Landscape). According to the specs, above, the screen is nearly 3/4 of the entire device. When you see it, you’ll likely have two thoughts – 1. Wow! The screen is 3/4 of the entire device!; and 2. Wait… its only 3/4 of the entire device?? That can’t be right. There’s more screen on this thing than that! The rest is system board, casing and battery.

Nexus-6

With its AMOLED display, the Nexus 6 is incredibly readable in direct sun light. I didn’t have any issues with it in that department. The device is awesome for watching video or taking pictures with its 13MP camera (more on that, below). Game play on this thing has to be amazing, given the screen’s large size and resolution. (I, unfortunately, am not much of a gamer…)

Nexus-6

With such a large footprint, the device is nearly impossible to use one handed. I’ve used a lot of devices with a lot of different form factors, with and without large touch screens. This one is hard to use with only one hand. I’m not certain I’d even try if I were you. You’ll sprain a thumb, at least. When I tried, I kept dropping the display on my desk.

Nexus-6

Lastly, the Nexus 6’s screen is covered with Gorilla Glass 3. The glass is effectively scratch proof, though Google will tell you its only scratch resistant. However, Gorilla Glass 3 is so tough, you won’t have to worry about the contents of your pocket scratching your screen.

Specs

The Nexus 6 runs Android 5.1.x, Lollipop. Google has recently stated that the device will receive an update to Android 5.1.1, “within days,” but since I received my review unit on 2015-07-09, I haven’t seen the update hit. Android 5.1.1 will be arrive as an over-the-air (OTA) update; and will provide a number of improvements, such as improving the display, increasing battery life for Wi-Fi calling and enhancing notifications.

OS: Android (5.1, 5.0)
Dimensions: 6.27 x 3.27 x 0.40 inches(159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06 mm)
Weight 6.49 oz.(184 g) the average is 5 oz. (142 g)
Rugged: Splash resistant

If the screen size didn’t give it away, then the dimensions above, should. The device is really big. At 184g (6.5oz), its also got a bit of heft to it, too. The biggest problem I had the first day I had it, though was actually keeping it in my hands. The device kept sliding out of my hands (as I noted above) because I kept trying to use it one handed. Thankfully, I was sitting at a desk in the office. With a phablet this large, don’t try it. If you’re out and about and you fumble the device, you’re likely going to have it hit the ground, and these things always manage to land on a corner or edge and then the screen shatters (Gorilla Glass 3 or not). That’s physics and geometry. Hitting the corner of a device at the right speed and velocity will likely send enough force up the glass to crack or shatter it. This bad boy requires you to use both hands to operate it. Get used to it and get over it.

The Nexus 6 has a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor and Adreno 420 graphics with 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage. The device is quick and can handle just about anything that you throw at it. With the native resolution that it has, and support for HDMI (via microUSB), with the right adapter, a Bluetooth keyboard and Microsoft Office for Android, this could make a decent, on the road, laptop replacement. Couple that with OneDrive for Android, and you’ve got a perfect on the go way to edit documents in a pinch. With its large screen, you don’t really HAVE to have a microUSB to HDMI adapter. You could probably edit documents right on the plane in your oh-so-comfy coach seat if you really needed to.

In that regard, the battery on this device is pretty nice too. At 3220mAh, you have about 12 hours of talk time, 14 days of standby time and 10 hours of continuous video playback (or likely somewhere in between, depending on your brightness settings and data needs). When you need to recharge, the device comes with a turbo charger that can take you from 0-50% in 20-30 minutes. The device also supports Qi wireless charging (pronounced “chee”) for your cord-free, charging convenience.

TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY

GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
UMTS: 800, 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz
FDD LTE: 700 (band 28), 800 (band 19), 800 (band 20), 850 (band 5), 900 (band 8), 1800 (band 3), 2100 (band 1), 2600 (band 7) MHz
TDD LTE: 2500 (band 41) MHz
Data: LTE-A Cat 6 (300/50 Mbit/s), HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSDPA+ (4G) 21.1 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, EDGE, GPRS
nano-SIM: Yes
VoLTE: Yes
Positioning: GPS, A-GPS
Navigation: Yes
Bluetooth: 4.1
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac
Mobile hotspot: Yes
USB: USB 2.0
Connector: microUSB
Features: Mass storage device, USB charging
HDMI: via microUSB
Other: NFC, MHL, SlimPort, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync

Camera

I’ve been trying to use the Nexus 6 as a camera whenever possible. Its not the easiest device to wield and hold; though, in truth, taking pictures with it isn’t a horrible experience. Though (also) in truth…the performance could and should be a whole lot better, especially with the specs on the camera and the system hardware. This thing should be a whole lot faster than it is.

Thankfully, it appears as though Google has heard the wails and cries of its peoples and has released a Nexus 6 and Android 5.1 Lollipop only update to Google Camera that addresses some of these issues (plus others). The update – version 2.5.052 (2005148-30) was released on 2015-06-11. I’ve had this device for about a week, and I’ve had it on every day since getting it. I’m not certain why I’ve only just received this update today.

I’ve got a small gallery of pictures that I’ve taken with the device. They’re not anything spectacular, but you can check them out, below.

Camera: Popup13 megapixels
Flash: Dual LED
Aperture size: F2.0
Features: Autofocus, Optical image stabilization, Face detection, Digital zoom, Geo tagging
Shooting Modes: Popup High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), Panorama
Camcorder: 3840×2160 (4K) (30 fps), 1920×1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps), 1280×720 (720p HD) (30 fps)
Front-facing camera: 2 megapixels

The rear camera is a 13MP camera that will shoot in a number of different sizes and modes. The camera supports both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio shots. You can get 13MP, 5MP, and 3.1MP shots in 4:3, and 9.7MP and 2.1MP shots in 16:9. The camera has a f2.0 aperture, so its pretty fast and should be ok in lower lighting situations. The cool part, though comes in its camcorder modes. The Nexus 6 shoots 4k, 1080p and 720p video at 30fps.

Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6

Speaker pop

I’m not sure why this is happening; but every time I turn the device on or off, the bottom speaker is popping. Its getting pretty annoying, too. The device started doing this out of the box, even before any software was installed or updated on it, so I know this isn’t something that I installed or updated causing a problem or conflict. I may need to contact Google on this one…

Software

Stock Android

The great thing about a Nexus device is that you’re running stock Android. Granted, this is not AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which is what Amazon and similar players use. This has the full Google Services install in it, and as such, you get the full Google Experience.

With the Nexus 6, you are supposed to get updates regularly, and you’re supposed to get all the updates, too. I’ve now gotten my Lollipop 5.1.1 update, and I really don’t see much of a difference in the device’s performance.

End of part one … come tomorrow to see the part two of our review

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Convert your DVD’s to any video format with TDMore DVD Converter

Convert your DVD’s to any video format with this handy Windows tool.
TDMDVD-11

I don’t know about you, but I have an absolutely HUGE DVD collection.  I’ve got DVD’s. I’ve got Blu-rays.  I’ve got movies coming out of my ears…and I absolutely love them all. All of them; but I have a huge problem. I’m running out of physical storage space for all of them.  Literally.  I’m really struggling to find a place to store even one more physical jewel case. Its probably for this reason alone that I really love applications like TDMore DVD Converter..  It’s a DVD converter for Windows, and if it can help me…it can help you, too.

TDMore DVD Converter is a versatile DVD converter and ripper that helps users quickly and efficiently convert DVD’s.  With it, you can convert DVDs to MP4, MKV, WMV, FLV, AVI, VOB, TS among other video formats.  You can also convert 2D to 3D video in MP4, MKV, WMV, TS, AVI formats.  If you’re into the audio tracks, you can convert your DVD’s to MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, M4A as well as other audio formats.

The app uses some pretty advanced compression power to get the job done. It uses H.265 HEVC.  That gives it the ability to shrink both audio and video down to about 50% of its actual size without losing any quality during playback.  That means that the files should work very nicely on your smartphone, tablet, or anywhere else you have a finite amount of non-upgradable storage (like many of the more popular ultrabooks and other notebooks on the market today as well).  Speaking of working with today’s popular hardware, the app has integrated NVIDIA’s CUDA and Intel’s Quick Sync technologies to dramatically reduce conversion times without skimping on playback quality.

The new version of TDMore DVD Converter can provide amazing functions as other popular software with the most reasonable price. For more information, please visit official website.

TDMore DVD Converter is a decent app. Its easy to use and has supports some really cool technology built into it that allows it to create some really small video conversions.  The big problem with this app, however, is its non-standard user interface.  The problem here is PC based performance after the conversion starts.

The app does all right with its own functionality.  The PC does ok on its own, but not every PC will handle multi-tasks ok.  Now, that’s not necessarily a specific problem with THIS app on mid-range to high-end PC, but on low-end or budget based PC’s, it may be; AND the non-standard app graphical interface doesn’t help.

TDMore DVD Converter does a really great job converting movies. On my PC, it was fast and quick and PC performance didn’t tank; but then again, I have a quad-core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM. Other PC’s may not fare as well as mine; but the end result on the ripped movie will be really great.

Download

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Smartphone 101 – Retrieving Voice Mail

Retrieving Voice Mail

Voice mail is a wonderful tool and can be a huge help, especially if you have a busy schedule. Getting it and managing its contents can be a challenge for the busy individual. This section assumes you’ve set up your voice mail account and it’s all good to go.

iPhone

  1. Open the phone app
    VM-ios-01
  2. Tap the voice mail icon on the bottom right of the app screen
    VM-ios-02
  3. Tap the voice mail message you wish to hear. It will expand to show a progress bar, representing the audio length of the message.
    VM-ios-03
  4. Press the play button on the left side of the screen. The message will play.
    VM-ios-04
  5. If you wish to save the message for later, do nothing. If you wish to delete the message, tap the Delete button.

Note: the iPhone uses Visual Voice Mail, which brings a more tactile voice mail management system to the device as opposed to the more traditional voice mail systems (like Windows Phone, below).

 

Android

Please note that voice mail systems on Android devices can vary from device to device, even on the same carrier. Some have Visual Voice Mail, like the iPhone, above. Others have more traditional voice mail systems. The following demonstrates voice mail retrieval on the HTC One (M8) on Verizon Wireless.

    1. Open the phone app.
      VM-and-01
    2. Press and hold the “1” button. Voice Mail will be called.
      VM-and-02

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Smartphone 101 – Making a Phone Call

OK… now that we have everything synching between your phone and your email account, let’s figure out exactly how to use it.

If you remember I started this series a few weeks ago and had one article about setting up your email account and address book and then one about synching that data to your smartphone. At this point, any changes or additions you make to either your email account via your computer or on your smartphone, to any of that data, will appear in both places.  It’s really pretty cool.

Integration, remember..? It’s all about integrating your data into the places where you will make the most use of it. That’s what makes your smartphone smart. It puts your data where you want to use it most – meaning your phone – and even anticipates how you want to use it, sometimes.

Your address book can hold listings for friends, family, businesses and the like. You’re likely going to want to call your parents on the weekends, your children’s pediatrician when they’re sick or need a checkup, and your dry cleaners to make sure that your clothes are read to be picked up, among many, many other things.  You may just want to yack your head off with your best friend.  Who knows…

Here’s the best way to do all that in all three major mobile operating systems. There are a couple-three scenarios here.

  • Making a Call

  • Receiving a Call

  • Retrieving Voice Mail

Let’s run through all of them quickly.

Making a Call

There are a few different ways to make a call – you can dial directly, search for a person in your address book or dial from a Favorites – or frequently called numbers – list.  I’m going to try to make this easy and have screenshots from all three operating systems in each section so we only have to do this once. Please note that the instructions here are going to reflect calling numbers here in the United States. If you live in another country, please sub in your country specifics for direct dialing numbers.

Dialing Directly

  1. Open your device’s Phone app and switch to the dialing pad screen

    DD-ios-01 DD-and-01 DD-WP-01
    iOS Android Windows Phone
  2. Dial the 10 digit phone number:  (area code) phone-number and press the (usually green) Phone button on the dialer to initiate the call.

DD-ios-02 DD-and-02 DD-WP-02
iOS Android Windows Phone

Please note – in the US, you do not NEED to dial a “1” in front of the phone number as you do on your land line phone.  While your call will still connect if you do, it’s not required on the cellular network like it is on the land line network. In most cases, unless you’re going to do any regular, international travel, you should NOT store your phone numbers as +1 (area code) phone-number.  Leave the “1” (or “+1”) off unless you DO travel internationally; and then it’s a good idea to have the “+1” prefix.

    1. Conduct your call.

      DD-ios-04 DD-and-03 DD-WP-03
      iOS Android Windows Phone

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Windows Phone

Now that you have your email account created and your address book populated, let’s get the data on your smartphone.

OK… we took quite a bit of time the other day getting our email account setup on our service of choice. Any of the ones that I gave you instructions for – Google Apps/Gmail, Outlook.com, iCloud – are decent choices and should serve you well. While you’re going to want to make certain you give yourself the best opportunity for glitch free synchronization (meaning it’s not always wise to mix and match devices and services, or more aptly put, I’d recommend using the service that is natively paired with your device – Gmail+Android, Windows Phone+Outlook.com/Exchange, or iCloud+iPhone), it is possible to mix and match if you absolutely HAVE to. If you must put a Google account on your iPhone, don’t be surprised if your experience isn’t as optimized as it would be if you had either Google services synching to an Android phone or Apple services synching to an iPhone. It works, but there may be a couple of glitches here and there…

So, how do you get the information from your email account over to your smartphone? It’s quite simple, really. You have to tell your smartphone that you have the type of account you have and then let the two communicate via the smartphone’s cellular data connection with the internet. As changes are made to either side – on your smartphone or on your email account – those changes will be made to the remaining side so that you’ll always have the latest information, no matter where you look at the data.

The big thing to remember here is that this is likely one of the first things your phone is going to want to take you through when you turn it on for the very first time. It’s going to want to attach itself to your email account so that you get all of your PIM data (Personal Information Management data – Mail, Calendar, Contacts (or address book) and Tasks) to and from your smartphone as the data changes. It will set up a Push Data connection (the same kind as Blackberry made famous, back in the day…); and as a result, your smartphone will always have the latest data and will be considered a “smart” source of information (hence the name, “smartphone”). Any time you want to know who needs to be where at what time, who you can call if for some reason you don’t get the information or can’t make an appointment, or want to message someone about… you can use your smartphone. (This is why we took the time to get your email account set up correctly…). It also makes all of this information portable, mobile and easy to take with you wherever you go.

Ok, so your phone is going to want to setup its default account (if you have more than one email account, you can set up more than one sync relationship) so that it gets all the info all the time. I’m going to take you through some of the default setup steps for Android, iPhone and Windows Phone. This will help you if you have problems.

However, the screens we’re going to review actually take you through, step-by-step and have a pretty good set of instructions. If I gloss over something that you don’t understand or need more information on, let me know in the comments, and I’ll update the instructions.

Please remember that this process assumes that you’re mixing apples with apples. In other words, you’re using the default email account TYPE with a LIKE phone.

Windows Phone+Outlook.com (or your Microsoft Account)
1. Turn your new Windows Phone on for the first time. The Welcome screen below, will appear after it boots.
wp_ss_0001

2. Sign in to your Microsoft Account on the “Keep Your Life in Sync” screen. If you sign in later, your phone won’t be setup correctly until it has all of this information.
wp_ss_0002

3. Enter in your Microsoft Account email address. This is more than likely a @msn.com, @live.com, @hotmail.com, or @outlook.com email address, but it could be any email address you have, provided you registered it as a Microsoft Account mail address.

4. Type in your password in the password field. When you’re done, either check or uncheck the “Allow Microsoft to send you information and tips about your Windows Phone,” checkbox. While this will subscribe you to their Windows Phone newsletter, it might have some cool tips in it that you didn’t know about. If you’re new to Windows Phone, I’d check it. You can always unsubscribe later.

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite #1: Setting up Your Address Book

This is a cell/ smartphone’s primary use case; but it isn’t as cut and dry as you think…

If you remember my intro from the other day, you’ll remember that what makes a smartphone smart can be summed up in one word – Integration. We’re going to come back to this point a number of different times over the course of this week, just to make certain everyone certain that they understand that missing an integration point can effect more than one app or piece of functionality.

For example – Failing to correctly setup and configure a primary email account will affect your ability to make and place cell calls.

I know. It’s strange except for one very important point – the address book in your smartphone is a universal address book. It has names, addresses and phone numbers in it for everyone that you want to communicate with, in any and EVERY way you will want to communicate with them.  That includes email addresses, Skype addresses, Facebook and Twitter name, etc.  If you don’t get your address book set up right, then you’re going to have issues taking and placing calls. Period.

The biggest thing I want you to do here is to NOT get overwhelmed. Yes.  You’re right…there’s going to be a lot here that may or may not make sense to you right away.  If things are confusing, then the biggest thing you can do to help yourself is

Ask questions.

That’s what the discussion area is for. If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask a question in the discussion area. I’ll check through the comments (if any) and answer your question(s). If need be, I’ll answer it in an article if the answer requires a bit more than a one-two step answer. It’s not a big deal…

So… step one – get an email address if you don’t already have one.  If you do have one, then you need to make certain that it will work appropriately with your new smartphone.  You’re probably also going to want to make certain that this service (remember that word for later…) also has a compatible calendar and task list or to-do list.  You’re likely going to want to keep track of those and your phone makes a great tool for that.  Here are a couple GREAT examples of mixing and matching PIM (Personal Information Management) services that will likely have to be forced to work.

Hotmail/ Outlook.com/ Exchange on Android – it works, but Google stopped supporting Exchange ActiveSync on Android.  All this means is that if you have your email, contacts (address book) and calendar here, getting it to show up on your Android phone just got more difficult. Chalk this up to the smartphone and ecosystem wars going on between Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Exchange on iPhone – Google isn’t the only one who stopped licensing Exchange ActiveSync (Microsoft’s Push eMail Sync System) on their devices. Apple did it too, and now getting the information there for new users of new Exchange eMail accounts is more difficult. It’s still possible, but you may have to configure things manually. I know I do…

Google Apps/Gmail on iPhone – If you have a Gmail account and you want to sync it to your iPhone, it isn’t as easy as it used to be when both Google and Apple were licensing Exchange ActiveSync. Now that neither support EAS, you either have to be grandfathered in via Google Apps, or pay $50 per year, per user to enable the feature. I don’t know many consumers that do this.

Ok… so your next question is obviously, “OK, Chris… What DOES work?”

That’s easy – stick to the ecosystem; or pair like animals together.

If you’re using an Android device, use or get a Gmail or Google Apps account.  If you’re using an iPhone your best bet is to use or get an Apple iCloud mail account. If you’re using Windows Phone, you can use Hotmail/Outlook.com or Exchange email addresses without any difficulty.  All of these will have Calendars and Task/To-Do lists.  You can set them up later.

See how the smartphones and support systems match up?  That’s what each company wants you to do.  They want you to use their SERVICES (I told you to remember that word from before…) with their devices. Google and Microsoft are all moving to a subscription based software licensing model when it comes to many of their software titles (like, Office 365, for example) and supporting services.  They want to lock you in so that you have to get what you need from them (that way, THEY get your dollars). The mixing and matching of devices and services that we did between 2008 and 2012 is ending. It’s getting harder and harder to do that. So, if you have an Android device, you might want to consider using Gmail. If you have an iPhone, you might want to consider using iCloud, etc., even if that means you have to stop using an address you’ve used for a long time.

Your first step, after signing up for a new email address is getting your contacts from the old system to the new system.  You’re likely going to want to do most of the work here on your desktop PC. There’s (potentially) a lot of information to capture, so you’re likely going to want to type things in on a desktop or laptop. Doing this on your smartphone keyboard is gonna suck.

Depending on the number of contacts you have, you can try to use the export system your old account has.  There are up to 9 different sets of instructions here (Contacts, Calendar, Tasks are available in Gmail, iCloud and Exchange); and all three have decent help systems that will show you how to export these items. If you have problems, leave me a comment and I will give you as simple a how-to for your situation as possible; but if you can send email, you can probably figure out how to export these three items into a format that can be used for importing into another system.

The same can be said for importing items. Look to your new email’s help system for importing items. After you get everything into the new system, we’ll setup a sync relationship and then make a test phone call.

However, if you’ve never had a smartphone before, then you probably don’t’ have a lot of contacts. If you have less than 100 entries in your old device’s phone book, you can probably type them into your new email account manually. To update your address book, use the following instructions on the following different systems.  These instructions assume you have already created an account on the appropriate and/or relevant system.
A quick note on importing contacts from social networks, like Facebook and Twitter: Most social networks ask you to input an email address and a phone number into your account profile. If you or your friends did that with, say your Facebook account, then that information will likely be imported into your new email system if it gives you the opportunity to import those contacts.

Outlook.com – These instructions will help you
a) Import some contact records to Outlook.com from 4 compatible social network and/or email sources (instructions included only because the options displayed automatically when the People app main page appeared)
b) Create a contact record for yourself.

1. Open your web browser and navigate to Outlook.com.
2. Log in with your Microsoft Account’s user name and password.  The Outlook.com main email page will appear
Outlook.com - Contact 01

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