ESPN ScoreCenter for Windows Phone: the total package

While sitting at the bar the other night, awaiting my Pittsburgh Steelers preseason action, a few of us were reading up on the latest and greatest in the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bucs went more than a few extra innings – 19 in total – in their win against the Cardinals.

But we, the Pittsburgh fans in Rochester, New York, weren’t just excited to see the final score on the ESPN ScoreCenter App for Windows Phone 7, they wanted the rest of the action! And they got it. You see, what we learned with several of us sitting around with smartphones in hand, was that on the iPhone, you have the ESPN ScoreCenter app, and the ESPN GameCenter app. On Windows Phone? It’s all conveniently rolled in to one total package.

Tap on any game’s score to reveal an in-depth play-by-play of the game, including a view of the strike-zone and diamond for baseball, the hardwood for basketball, a football field and presumably an ice rink, all showing where shots take place, gains and losses on the play, strikes, balls, field goals, and three pointers, all depending on your sport de jour. No need to launch in to a different app, Windows Phone 7 has brought the GameCenter to you within the ScoreCenter app.

Microsoft has some new tools to take malware and spyware seriously

Even though I have listed off a good number of programs in my IT toolkit and cleaning malware infected computers, I have a new tool I’m starting to use more and more – and you already have it. It goes by two names. The “Malware Removal Tool” from Microsoft, or even “Microsoft Safety Scanner.”

Microsoft packs this little beauty in to your computer with each Windows Update. Simply go to your Start Menu and click RUN (or if you don’t have run just use the search box at the bottom of the Start Menu), type in MRT and press enter. You’ve opened the latest Malware Removal Tool! With a few presses of the next button, you’ll be on your way to scanning your computer for known pieces of malware that can slip right by antivirus and other tools.

If you don’t know the last time you’ve run your Windows Updates and you want to ensure you have the latest and greatest version right from Microsoft’s Security Scanner website. Don’t plan to keep this one in your IT toolkit – unlike the download from Windows Update, this download will actually expire every 10 days to ensure you’re keeping a fresh and up-to-date copy with you.

Microsoft has also launched the very interesting Malware Protection Center, which reports most active and recently published / identified pieces of malware. Currently, Microsoft is reporting the top ten desktop threats right now to be:

  • Trojan:Win32/Sirefef.AC
  • Trojan:JS/IframeRef
  • Worm:Win32/Conficker.B
  • Worm:Win32/Conficker.C
  • Virus:Win32/Sality.AM
  • Exploit:Win32/CplLnk.A
  • Virus:Win32/Sality.AT
  • Worm:Win32/Dorkbot!lnk
  • Trojan:Win32/FakeSysdef
  • Trojan:DOS/Alureon.E

So be sure to check your computer for your own safety!

Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Failure Codes

When Microsoft has an open beta test for the Xbox 360 Dashboard, the public release can’t be far off. With a new dashboard update just around the corner, I thought it might be handy to have this article at your disposal. If you perform an update and receive an error code after the update, here is how you can decode it, and what to do about each one. Some even require SPECIFIC updates that may not automatically be downloaded through Xbox Live – you would have to download these ‘special’ updates designed to resolve these issues. Microsoft has created a VERY helpful page, and addresses several possible error codes:

xxxx-307D-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
xxxx-3080-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
xxxx-3143-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
xxxx-3151-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx
xxxx-xxxx-1xxx-xxxx-C000-007B
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-000E
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0010
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-007F
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-D000-0120
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8007-0461
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8007-2746
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8007-274C
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8007-2751
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8007-2AF9
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8007-2EE2
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-8015-xxxx
xxxx-xxxx-xx8x-xxxx-807B-0194
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0185
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0032
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0013
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0286
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-8007-000F
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-8007-045D
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-D000-0185
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0001
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0034
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C810-1001
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0022
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C800-8001
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-003C
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0221
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C005-3007
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-003A
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-0099
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C810-1012
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C810-1011
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C800-0080
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-016B
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C005-3002
xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-C000-003F

Possible Error Codes after Console Update has its own support section on Xbox.com.

10+ years of video games ripping us off!

Call it link bait, I call it a hint of sarcasm. To say that the games industry has been ripping us off for a long time is a bit of an exaggeration – we’ve been playing the “sales” game with them a long time. But people have been up in arms over the last few years about unlocking content already on the disc. Unfortunately for all of us, this isn’t a new concept and I’ve brought along a little proof that this has been happening for years Continue reading “10+ years of video games ripping us off!”

Carrier Free Phone Updates are a MUST

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Smart phone owners, I believe that it is high time we take the need for firmware updates out of the hands of the carriers. At the very least there should be some sort of written minimum guarantee when you purchase your phone.

Nearly two years ago, I purchased my Android phone: the HTC Evo Shift on Sprint. Now, I know what many of you have to say about Sprint, but I’m not checking my data cap every ten minutes and I regularly use over 2.5GB of bandwidth, so the service pays for itself. The phone was supposed to be the next chapter in the highly successful Evo product line. But it was destined to fail. Mediocre sales mean the phone saw one update, from FroYo to Gingerbread, then one minor service update.

During my time with Android, I purchased the HTC Arrive, a Sprint Windows Phone 7 device. It has received one update, the Mango 7.5 update, which Microsoft somehow made sure was released to every phone. The subsequent Tango update? Nowhere to be found. The forthcoming Apollo update? fat chance! Sprint officially “end of life’d” the phone.

The iPhone is easier to update because it is not so much a phone or a model, an operating system with iterative hardware. Although it is true that Android has seen Platform fragmentation, and iOS eventually will, Windows Phone 7 was a small enough environment that the updates should have been easy. But alas, silence for my Arrive.

I believe Apple has the best handle on their fragmentation, and being the manufacturer, they have the obligation to support their device. I just hope that the other mobile OS developers take a page from Apple’s book on this one and learn to centrally manage firmware upgrades. There must be an easier way! And even if there isn’t, then every phone yogurt buy should have a minimum of two major upgrade revisions. You should sign an agreement that the phone will be supported at least beyond the box it came in, unless perhaps you intentionally buy a bargain phone! I am hoping Windows Phone 8 relies on the old Windows Update model.

You can tell me that every phone’s hardware is just too different for centralized updates to work. But nothing on earth is more widely varied or open to the creator’s wills than the desktop PC market, yet Windows Update has been working pretty reliably for Microsoft since 1998. If they can make universal updates for a literally limitless combination of hardware components, it ought to be pretty easy to send out a few updates to some simple phones!

App of the week: NASA TV

I don’t think there is a whole lot to say about this one, it’s pretty stragiht forward. But I have found myself watching bits and pieces of the NASA TV app lately on my iPad. There are frequent live feeds from the international space station, where you can watch the astronauts float around as they get their day-to-day work done. There are also some interesting documentaries and clips – I got to see some great information about the Morpheus lander only hours before it would fail in a fiery crash.

It’s free, and comes with that wonderful feeling of satisfaction in knowing that you are paying attention to something that more people should be watching!

2007 – Secondhand Serenade – Awake

I don’t know if this album falls under “guilty pleasures” or what, but in 2007 when I first stumbled on to it, Awake from Secondhand Serenade had me hooked. I’m a sucker for a guitar and someone who actually has some vocal talent. It happens so rarely that someone with talent shows up in the music industry, but then when I read more about the album and was even more impressed.

John Vesely was pretty much a one man show, with vocals and instrumentals by John Vesely. He used multi-tracking to make it sound like there were more voices and instruments. When on tour (I got to see him in Lancaster in 2008), he would bring a band with them, but only used them for some of the songs from the 2008 album, and when singing more tracks from the 2007 album Awake they left the stage and the audience filled in the other voices.

I won’t even get in to lyrics and music, I think I’ve already explained quite a bit. Secondhand Serenade saw some fame when the 2nd album released, but I’ve genuinely enjoyed awake Awake, and I think you will, too!