BlackBerry Z10: Wi-Fi Solved

February 3, 2013

I got Wi-Fi access working again. It turns out that I needed to go to the Identification on Network option, and set both my Username and Workgroup. Obvious enough… what really confused me was that networking worked for a while before failing. It’s also a shame that all these options aren’t in the same place in OS10.

By the way, if you want to use Wi-Fi sharing without entering your password and username every time, you’ll need to know how to make Windows remember your settings. Merely ticking the “Remember my credentials” box won’t do it. (I’m talking about Windows 7 here, though I seriously doubt the problem has been addressed in Windows 8.) If you go to the Control Panel and open Credential Manager, then click on the BlackBerry entry, you’ll find a line that says “Persistence: session.” That means when you log out (or reboot) your credentials disappear.

BlackBerry Z10 007 credentials BLUR

I found the solution months ago, when having the same problem with a network storage server. Here’s the gist of it:

  1. Sign in to your BlackBerry when asked to do so by Explorer.
  2. Open Credential Manager from Control Panel.
  3. Find the BlackBerry entry, open it, select Edit, then remove the domain name (all the extra junk) in front of your user name. Save.
  4. Log off Windows and log back in. Open Credential Manager again. (Your previous BlackBerry entry should be gone.)
  5. Try to open the BlackBerry again in Explorer. When asked, enter your username and password, but don’t check “Remember my credentials.”
  6. In Credential Manager, select “Add a Windows credential,” and enter your BlackBerry name (as shown in the Storage and Access menu), your username (without any of the extra domain stuff) and password. Save.

When you log on next time, you should find that you can connect to the BlackBerry without being asked for login info. In Credential Manager, you should see in the BlackBerry item the line “Persistence: Enterprise.” It may be possible to make this work without all the extra palaver, but this exact sequence seems to work reliably.

BlackBerry Z10 009 credentials CROP-BLUR

There’s another solution here. It involves using the Group Policy Editor, and seems much more elegant. But you’ll have to have one of the upscale versions of Windows 7; cheaper editions don’t include the Group Policy Editor. Other posts suggest that your Homegroup settings may cause slightly different behavior. If so, you may need to try one of the alternate fixes.

Is this all incredibly stupid? Yes. These idiotic problems have been accumulating in Windows for years, and are only rarely getting fixed. My folder of saved workarounds keeps getting bigger and bigger…

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Surface: Who’s It For?

July 21, 2012

I’ve just been looking at some NPD stats. I probably shouldn’t quote them in detail, as NPD does like to sell these reports. But I don’t think I’m giving too much away when I mention that the percentage of tablet owners currently using wireless or docked keyboards is  just over 10%. In other words, with Surface, Microsoft is gunning for not more than one-tenth of the tablet audience.

Of course, you could argue that the people who really want keyboards are all holding out for something better than the current iOS/Android devices. In marketing terms, that kind of argument is called “wishful thinking.” It’s not necessarily false, but it’s unhelpful at best, and dangerous at worst. (My own theory is s equally likely: that most people like tablets exactly because they lack a keyboard.)

My prediction is that Surface Pro will do modestly well, but that sales will be almost entirely cannibalized off the existing Windows laptop and Ultrabook business. (Surface RT will, of course, fail miserably, given that it doesn’t run Windows applications, has a zero base of it’s own Metro apps, and offers no particular advantage over existing Android or iOS devices.)


Metered Internet in Canada

February 9, 2011

The CRTC set off a powderkeg, when they ruled to allow big service providers to force smaller resellers to impose usage caps and overage fees on their end-users.

Now that the issue has been opened up for debate, it’s time to re-examine Internet pricing in general. As Netflix has pointed out, the big Canadian ISPs are charging overage rates of about $1 (I’ve seen as high as $2.50) for a gigabyte that costs them something like $0.01 to deliver. That’s quite a markup. (My own conversations with smaller ISPs roughly confirm this math. For example, last summer I was told that the average cost per gigabyte is “below 3 cents.”)

Much of the pro-metering argument has hinged on vague, emotional talk about “making the bandwidth hogs pay.” This assumes that the cost of that extra bandwidth is actually significant. At $0.01 per gigabyte, it’s clearly not. The difference between the mythical ‘light user’ and ‘bandwidth hog’ simply isn’t enough to argue about. We need to recognize this reality: that the cost of bandwidth today is insignificant compared to the cost of simply maintaining a connection.

Let’s say the heaviest user grabs 350 gigabytes in a month. (Not easy, even over the fastest Canadian connection.) Total cost: $3.50. That’s what we’re arguing about: $3.50 a month. Given that the ‘bandwidth hog’ is almost certainly on a higher-speed plan, he’s probably already paying more than enough to cover the extra usage. But never mind. Just add the $3.50 to their bill, and we can all move on.

Clearly, the argument isn’t about metered or non-metered billing. It’s about fair pricing.

It’s also not about a few ‘bandwidth hogs.’ Very soon, we’re all going to be ‘bandwidth hogs.’ As services like Netflix open up streaming video, monthly caps of 25GB are going to seem ridiculous. In fact, there’s a general agreement that all television may be shifting to the Internet: ‘IPTV.’ Right now, you can leave the soaps running while you cook. Do that with metered billing, and you’re going to have a very nasty shock at the end of the month.

With digital technology, prices should be going down, not up. Yes, digital is better. But it’s also cheaper. A CD sounds better than an LP (get over it), but it’s also cheaper to manufacture. Digital TVs are better than analog, but are also cheaper to make. DVD players (or digital video recorders, in so far as they’ve been allowed to exist) are better, simpler and cheaper than VCRs.

Unfortunately, the markup on delivery of traditional TV services (cable and satellite) is much, much larger than anything ISPs can ever hope to make on Internet service. The big ISPs who are in both businesses are going to be reluctant to abandon their role as gatekeepers of content, in favor of one as vendors of commodity connection services. But that’s where things are headed, and Canada needs to keep up.

One way to help is to speak up.  The Internet is vital to our entertainment, our livelihood, our democratic process. Canadians don’t mind paying our way, but the price has to be a fair one, not a crippling penalty specifically aimed at holding back the future.

The CRTC has asked for input. We need to give it to them. OpenMedia.ca is the group that’s done most to champion this issue, and they have all the info about how to send comments to the CRTC on this page. Do it now.


Vista SP1: More Details

March 31, 2008

Further to my previous post, I think it’s rather useful to look up Microsoft’s detailed list of changes for SP1. You can find an HTML version here, and a downloadable PDF version here.

I find the extreme length of this document anything but reassuring. Especially as so many of the changes are:

  1. things that shouldn’t have been broken;
  2. probably still not truly fixed;
  3. things that shouldn’t have been in this OS in the first place.

Note that even the “Updating Stack” itself had to be updated in order to install the update. Eeek!