Transfer Contacts from Android to Windows Phone

Android to Windows Phone

I recently lost my Samsung Galaxy S III and decided to replace it with the Nokia Lumia 1020 and its killer camera, which required me moving from Android to Windows Phone 8 (WP8).

I had anticipated moving to another phone before I lost my S3 so all of my contacts were saved online in my Google account with Google Contacts.  At first it appeared that my transition would be import and export free:  all I would need to do is sign in to my Google account from my WP8 phone.  But upon checking my contacts after syncing my Google account I saw that most of them were missing most of their info, notably phone numbers.

I did a lot of research, including reading some announcement that Google Sync will be discontinued for free Google Apps users, but nothing told me why most of my contacts were defective.  So I looked at the actual content of the Google Contacts format by downloading the file and eventually found that the reason for the missing content was capitalization of some of the field names.

If you have the same issue do this to fix it:

  1. Download your Google contacts via More -> Export… -> Google CSV format.
  2. Open the file with a text editor, e.g. Notepad,  (Excel won’t work for this task.)
  3. Do a case sensitive replacement for:
    HOME -> Home
    MOBILE -> Mobile
    CUSTOM -> Mobile
    MAIN -> Mobile
    WORK -> Work
  4. Save the file,
  5. Delete all your online Google contacts,
  6. Upload your newly decapitalized contacts file, and
  7. Finally sync your Google account on your WP8 phone.

That solved my problem.  Hopefully it will solve yours too!

You may find that you have more field names for certain phone numbers:  maybe pager, company, or whatever.  Sentence case these field names also.

Let me know if this helped you transfer your contacts.

Good luck!

Carbonite is Useless (Review)

Carbonite

Carbonite

I don’t have much to report here since I my experience with Carbonite occurred a few months ago and I’ve forgotten many of the details. But I’d like to report that Carbonite was absolutely useless.

Apparently Carbonite had backed up several gigabytes of data for me, but I couldn’t get to any meaningful amount of it. Nor could I access particular files for that matter.

I have a very high speed internet connection; speedtest.net tells me upwards of 50 Mbps. However, it took me 24 hours to download less than a couple hundred Mb from Carbonite. I called their tech support several times the next day to ask them how I could download a particularly important file I needed. They directed me to the search function of their desktop control panel. It turned out to be unable to search my files effectively. It also crashed many times.

So after spending over an hour on the phone with their tech support over the span of several calls and days I decided to ask for a refund for the unused 2 years on my 3-year plan. When they should have offered me a full refund they told me I had to spend more time with their tech support winding my way through 2 more levels of support despite having worked my way to what I already thought was level 3 support.

Well, I’m using SOS Online Backup now. If I ever need to access my data I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Critique and Review

No KahnemanLet me begin by saying, Wow!  I was blown away by this book.

But in a bad way; not in a good way.  I was blown away by the monotony and the abundance of inaccurate science.  One wouldn’t normally expect mainly bad science from a Nobel Prize winner.  Then again, perhaps one would if the Nobel Prize is in Economic Sciences, since in general the further you stray from the hard sciences the less rigorous the science is.  (Incidentally, the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was created in 1968 whereas the other five were created in 1895.)

The book provides a few interesting insights, but not nearly enough for 400+ pages.  I’ll quote the most interesting one here so you won’t make the mistake of buying the book yourself:

Consider two car owners who seek to reduce their costs:

Adam switches from a gas-guzzler of 12 mpg to a slightly less voracious guzzler that runs at 14 mpg.

The environmentally virtuous Beth switches from a 30 mpg car to one that runs at 40 mpg.

Suppose both drivers travel equal distances over a year.  Who will save more gas by switching?

If you do the math, the unintuitive answer is that Adam will save more.  The conclusion is that US labeling policy should be changed from mpg to the more intuitive gpm.

I fear that the above may entice you to read the book.  So in an attempt to offset that urge let me provide some examples of the deplorable logic that dominate the book.

On page 72, Kahneman tells a story in which he and his wife saw an acquaintance in Australia, then two weeks later saw the same acquaintance in a London theater.  He states, “By any measure of probability, meeting Jon in the theater was much less likely than meeting one of our hundreds of acquaintances – yet meeting Jon seemed more normal.”  Huh??  Why is meeting Jon less likely?  Actually, if all else is equal, they are equally likely to meet Jon in London as any other acquaintance.  And if you take Jon’s propensity to travel (as evidenced by the only additional information we have, namely his presence in Australia) into account then it is more likely to meet Jon in London.

Then on page 76, Kahneman writes, “Experiments have shown that six-month-old infants see the sequence of events as a cause-effect scenario, and they indicate surprise when the sequence is altered.  We are evidently ready from birth to have impressions of causality, which do not depend on reasoning about patterns of causation.”  Huh??  Does Kahneman assume that a human cannot learn impressions of causality in his first six months?

You may think I’m nit-picking a bit here, but I wouldn’t have picked up on these two examples if erroneous thinking wasn’t pervasive throughout the book.  Let me present two more examples.

On page 116, he recounts his contribution to the Israeli Air Force during a war.  Two similar squadrons were faring differently.  One squadron lost four planes while the other had lost none.  The operational differences between the squadrons were initially found to be small.  He says, “My advice was that the command should accept that the different outcomes were due to blind luck, and that the interviewing of the pilots should stop.  I reasoned that luck was the most likely answer, that a random search for a nonobvious [sic] cause was hopeless, and that in the meantime the pilots in the squadron that had sustained losses did not need the extra burden of being made to feel that they and their dead friends were at fault.”  Again: huh??  This one I really don’t get.  His thinking is so ridiculous I can’t explain how it’s ridiculous.  But let me attempt anyway.  He implies that since the losses were probably random that they shouldn’t be investigated.  I would say that the loss of a multimillion dollar plane should be investigated regardless of whether you think it may be random or not.  What if a non-random cause is discovered?

Lastly, on page 184, he ends the previous chapter with the following exercise:

One of my favorite examples of the errors of intuitive prediction is adapted from Max Bazerman’ s excellent text Judgment in Managerial Decision Making:
You are the sales forecaster for a department store chain. All stores are similar in size and merchandise selection, but their sales differ because of location, competition, and random factors. You are given the results for 2011 and asked to forecast sales for 2012. You have been instructed to accept the overall forecast of economists that sales will increase overall by 10%.  How would you complete the following table?

Store       2011       2012
1       $11,000,000       ________
2       $23,000,000       ________
3       $18,000,000       ________
4       $29,000,000       ________
Total       $81,000,000       $89,100,000

Having read this chapter, you know that the obvious solution of adding 10% to the sales of each store is wrong. You want your forecasts to be regressive, which requires adding more than 10% to the low-performing branches and adding less (or even subtracting) to others. But if you ask other people, you are likely to encounter puzzlement: Why do you bother them with an obvious question? As Galton painfully discovered, the concept of regression is far from obvious.

Again Kahneman is incorrect.  The most reasonable calculation in this scenario is to treat each 2011 sales number as that store’s average due to the store’s location (and therewith simply add 10% to each number), and not to confusedly combine the numbers and regress them to the mean as if they were representative of all stores.

It is not only bad science that makes this book so unreadable; it is also unfortunately oozing with self-satisfaction and reminiscences of Kahneman’s happy, bygone friendship with his “research” partner Amos.  Does Kahneman mean to present this book as an autobiography or a popular account of science?  By all means, be inspired by and happy with your work, but emoting such self-satisfaction about your own poor thinking only degrades the quality of your work further.

Kahneman attempts in this book to give a scientific exposition of various failings of humans’ propensity to occasionally misinterpret certain numeric scenarios, and to make it sound new in the process.  The ideas he presents in this book are not new.  Some of them are from earlier books and articles, and others from his papers of 1983 and earlier.  As I read I felt Kahneman attempting to make his book entertaining, as Malcolm Gladwell does with similar subjects.  But where Gladwell succeeds in entertaining us, Kahneman fails miserably.  Neither does Kahneman adhere to any scientific method, as I detailed earlier.  Kahneman’s resulting book is neither new, nor entertaining, nor scientific; it is unfortunately simply a monotonous aggregation of anecdotal statistics.

How to Host a Successful Design Contest on 99designs or crowdSPRING

Here are my tips for hosting a successful design contest:

  1. Purchase a Bronze/Economy package but state in your contest title that you are doubling the winnings to $400 (so you’ll award an additional $200; 99designs takes $99 from the $299 Bronze package) and that they will be distributed to designers that contribute elements to the final design.  Do either that or make your contest blind, it’s only fair.  It also should be blind if you offer over $1000.
  2. Purchase a Bronze package, but state that you will award an additional $200 (or $100 or whatever) for another reason too:  99designs and crowdSPRING are a complete ripoff when it comes to their commission.  For the Silver/Standard package they charge $200, or 40%!
  3. Definitely DO invite great designers who are part of the community.
  4. Consider inviting only proven designers for a private contest so that you don’t waste your time with lower quality designers.
  5. If you do not host a private contest, quickly eliminate designers that you determine by their portfolio cannot finish the design so as not to waste time communicating with them.
  6. Don’t invite designers who do not already have a successful account with the community; if they don’t already have an account they may not work well within that system even if they’ve proven their worth as a good designer.
  7. Guarantee your contest immediately if possible, and state that it is guaranteed in the contest title.

Those are all the tips I’ve got for now.

Air India Sucks

Don’t fly Air India unless it is your only option.

On my way home from Torino, Italy on Feb. 27th, 2006 I had the unpleasant experience of being delayed on the first segment of my three-segment trip,Torino-Dusseldorf-Frankfurt-Los Angeles. Since I had purchased the ticket from Air India through CheapTickets.com I asked Air India to rebook me on the next available flight to Los Angeles. They told me no, that they would put me up in a hotel for the night, and that I could leave on the next flight in 24 hours. So I asked Lufthansa also, which was the airline for the first two connecting segments, to rebook me on the next flight to Los Angeles. They said Air India had to give the OK to do the rebooking since they were the ones who sold the ticket to me. On my behalf, Lufthansa, who by the way has great service, called Air India and also received an answer of “No”.

I travel from the US to Europe and within the US several times a year. Each time I have missed my flight, even when I missed it due to my own error, the airline has booked me on the very next flight to my destination. You can imagine how pissed off I was at Air India’s response since there were several more flights to Los Angeles that day connecting through cities such as Washington D.C. Even Lufthansa was shocked that Air India would not rebook me on the next available flight.

More Annoyances
I had an uneasy feeling about flying on this particular airline when I unsuccessfully attempted to access airindia.com to register for a frequent flyer number. Although the website showed me a generic “under construction” sign, I continued with my online booking through CheapTickets.com.

The overhead light of the passenger in the seat next to me could not be turned off. And his entertainment monitor did not display anything at all. My monitor played French in one ear and English in the other on some channels, on others the video and audio flickered in and out. When I tried to raise my headrest it broke away from my chair. The 747 fleet of Air India must be one of the oldest.

To Lufthansa
Lufhansa, PLEASE, in the future do not accept connecting flights for Air India and thereby mix your upstanding reputation with that of Air India’s.

General Flying Recommendations:

  1. Reduce the number of segments as much as possible, not only to reduce travel time and discomfort due to takeoffs and landings, but to reduce the probability of missing a connecting flight.
  2. Purchase tickets that use the same airline for all segments.