What Do You Mean My Address Book Is Full?!?

For many years, I’ve been a paying customer for Hotmail.  Now this isn’t as big a benefit as it used to be, but still, I like the service I get, and usually don’t have any issues.  Tonight, after sending an email, I tried to use the “Add Contact” feature, and was denied.  Instead of the expected result, I got the following:


This prompted me to check how many contacts I’ve got squirreled away.  Evidently, I’ve accumulated 999 contacts.  While I admit that it’s a lot, every one of those contacts was added for a reason, and now Windows Live Hotmail is telling me that I have to purge something if I want to continue adding contacts.

Now I’m in total agreement that my Address Book could use some serious spring cleaning, but I don’t like being forced into it.  Besides that, my current “Mailbox Usage” is resting at 6% of 4GB used.  This is not a space issue.  This is an arbitrary limit that was placed on Hotmail.  My question is: What is the functional or business requirement that caused them to set this limit at 999?  Basically, this tells power users and communicators that if they have more than 999 legitimate contacts, then Hotmail isn’t good enough for them.

I’m breaking up with Windows Mobile

For the better part of 5 years, I have carried a Windows Mobile device on a daily basis.  My first Windows Mobile device was a Dell Axim X5 (And for the nitpickers, it actually ran Microsoft Pocket PC 2002).  I had a short run with an SMT5600 Smart Phone, and an even longer run with an Axim X50v.  Since last May I have been a happy Motorola Q owner.  We’ve had some good times, checked email well over 1000 times, read blogs, navigated the eastern US.

The End of an Era?

But tomorrow, I’m saying goodbye, or at least fare-well to my Windows Mobile days.  I’ve got an order in for a Samsung SCH-u740.  When I first saw this phone, my initial gut reaction was “That’s going to be my next SmartPhone”, but after I realized that it didn’t run Windows Mobile, I brushed it aside.  Yeah it’s a cool phone, and the form factor is pretty innovative, but what about all the cool Windows Mobile apps that it can’t run?  You see, I had become a Windows Mobile snob.

Lately though, I’ve come to realize that Windows Mobile to me is like having a 800 watt home theater speaker setup.  You don’t really need that much volume, but there’s some geek appeal to knowing that you could shake your neighbor’s fillings loose with a simple turn of a knob.  Sports cars that can do 200mph fall into the same mental category for me.  Same with giant SUV’s that never set a wheel off paved ground.  It’s excess capacity, and frankly I don’t really need it.

My new SCH-u740 will let me check email, and I can browse blogs.  And it’s supposed to be a pretty good phone as well.  Plus it can do all of this without having Verizon’s outrageously priced unlimited data plan.  I’ll sign up for Mobile Web 2.0, and that will give me all I need.

My Next SmartPhone

Now I’m sure there are many Windows Mobile fans out there that are thinking “He just doesn’t get it”.  I used to be one of you.  But now I feel like I do get it.  My phone is a tool that I use to communicate, and I’ve found a phone that will let me communicate the way I like, at a lower cost, and in a form factor that I love.  Just because I usually prefer Microsoft technology doesn’t mean I’m going to blindly follow the Microsoft brand, when better alternatives exist.

There’s a 30 day window where I can return the new phone if it doesn’t live up to my expectations, so I guess Windows Mobile and I are really on a trial separation.  I’ll write up my post-Windows Mobile experience after I’ve had time to get used to the new phone, including what I think works better outside the Microsoft umbrella, and what I miss.

Google Maps playing catchup with Virtual Earth

Google Maps has released some street-level imagery with Street View. One interesting note is that this feature seems to have sidestepped Google’s typical protracted “Beta” phase. (Seriously, why is Gmail still in Beta?  Did they just forget to edit the logo?) 

The Street View interface is pretty usable and intuitive from a first take, I’d even say quite a bit better than the initial “driving game” style interface seen at preview.local.live.com

There’s been a bit of confusion about what the imaging vehicles look like with Engadget posting reflected images yesterday, and then later posting images of Immersive’s non-stealth imaging vehicle.

First shot of the van, captured from Google Maps


Immersive’s VW, from Immersive Media Website



Some are arguing that one or the other is incorrect, but the likely case is that the initial imaging was done with unmarked, inconspicuous vehicles and that future imaging will be done with those cute VW Beetles.

This same pattern was seen with Microsoft’s Streetside imaging vehicles (actually run by Facet Technologies)

Stealth Van: (found in a reflected image back in March 2006)



Non-stealth Truck: (spotted on the OH turnpike in June 2005)


Whatever the case, it’s very interesting to see competition in this space.  I’m just waiting for the 3d-city views and this street-level imaging to converge through some marriage of Photosynth-like technology, huge datasets, and lots of processing power.